With no evidence that a quick resolution is in sight for a partial government shutdown spurred by a dispute over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, federal agencies have started helping their workers apply for unemployment benefits in a bid to ease the financial pain of the shutdown, as more than 800,000 federal workers face the prospect of missing a second paycheck at the end of this week, with little evidence that Congress will forge a bipartisan solution to end this increasingly bitter political brawl.
“Take this form with you if you go to file a claim,” states a document given to workers at the Commerce Department in recent days, advising them of how to file for unemployment benefits during the shutdown.
“DO NOT DELAY filing a UI claim,” the document tells employees, “if you wait, your unemployment benefits may be reduced or you may not qualify for any benefits.”
The financial pinch of the shutdown was taking a public toll on airport security screeners, as the Transportation Security Administration reported that 10 percent of its workforce took an sick day on Sunday,” as ‘unscheduled absences’ jumped over the long federal holiday weekend.
On Capitol Hill, there was no sense that President Trump’s Saturday speech – in which he offered an immigration deal to Democrats – had changed the dynamic of the shutdown politics at all.
Senate Republicans were still planning to vote by Thursday on the President’s plan – as Republicans on Monday released a 1,301 page bill which covers the President’s immigration plans, as well as the seven major government funding bills which have not yet been approved by the Congress.
Republicans would need all 53 GOP Senators to stick together – and then get the votes of seven Democrats.
That seemed unlikely as lawmakers headed back to Washington, D.C.
“This coming Friday is going to be the second paycheck missed for hundreds of thousands of public servants,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “There are multiple bills that could pass the House and Senate with a massive majority.”
One GOP lawmaker suggested that both Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate allow a fully open debate in both chambers – after voting to re-open the government.
House Democrats were planning two different votes this week – one on a package of bills to fund the government, and the second on a separate measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security.
But those plans from Democrats did not include one thing that the President wants more than anything else – billions of dollars to fund the construction of a wall along the Mexican border.
“Democrats are kidding themselves (they don't really believe it!) if they say you can stop Crime, Drugs, Human Trafficking and Caravans without a Wall or Steel Barrier,” the President tweeted on Monday.
The President’s plan includes $5.7 billion for border security – with some of that going to a wall; it would also shield around 700,000 DACA recipients, and another 300,000 people who had overstayed their temporary permission to be in the U.S., giving them a three-year legal status, allowing them to avoid being deported.
Democrats have grumbled about the President’s offer to shield 1 million people from deportation, arguing that Mr. Trump was the one who tried to take away their immigration protections in the first place.