The White House and congressional Democrats halted even the pretense of negotiations as the political acrimony between President Trump and Democratic leaders reached new levels.
By Damian Paletta and
Josh Dawsey January 17 at 6:30 PM
The State Department ordered its employees to return to work next week, saying it has found money to cover a half month in salary, as the Trump administration continued to grapple with a federal shutdown that shows no sign of ending.
The unexpected yet temporary move came on a day when the White House and congressional Democrats halted even the pretense of negotiations. The political acrimony between President Trump and Democratic leaders reached new levels, worrying members of both parties that the chance of a near-term resolution has moved far out of reach.
Trump on Thursday sent Pelosi a letter informing her he was canceling her imminent flight to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. This came one day after Pelosi suggested that Trump postpone his State of the Union address or present it in written form.
In his letter to Pelosi announcing her canceled trip, Trump wrote that “it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”
Facing his own questions about plans to send a delegation of top officials to Davos, Switzerland, next week for the World Economic Forum, Trump late Thursday announced he would scrap the trip “[o]ut of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay.” Trump himself dropped out of the conference earlier this month but had planned to send top officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The cancellations came as White House officials, federal employees, government agencies and thousands of businesses are struggling to adjust to a new dynamic: a politically paralyzed capital that lacks funding for some of its core operations. The flurry of polls that show Americans largely blame the White House for the shutdown has rattled Trump, people close to him said, leading him to closely monitor the fallout.
Senior White House officials receive frequent updates on how many Transportation Security Administration staffers are calling in sick to work, aware that major delays at airports could prompt a huge backlash.
To try to contain other fallout, thousands of federal workers are being rushed back to work, almost always without pay, to prevent the shutdown from having a cascading effect on the economy and the United States’ standing in the world.
But it’s unclear how long this piecemeal approach will work.
Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questioned the legal justification the State Department was using to rapidly reinstate its workforce four weeks after the agency effectively ran out of money.
“As we await further clarity on this new funding scheme, I have serious questions about its impact on our embassy security, our efforts to combat terrorism and other vital programs,” he said.