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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Latest: Congress set to act quickly to reopen government

A flight information board shows the new times for flights after the FAA announced delays at LaGuardia Airport, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in New York.  Earlier Friday, the FAA announced LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were both experiencing delays in takeoffs due to staffing problems at two air traffic control facilities. (Julio Cortez / AP)
A flight information board shows the new times for flights after the FAA announced delays at LaGuardia Airport, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in New York. Earlier Friday, the FAA announced LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey were both experiencing delays in takeoffs due to staffing problems at two air traffic control facilities. (Julio Cortez / AP)

Congress moving quickly to reopen government

Congress is expected to quickly pass legislation that would temporarily reopen the government after President Donald Trump announced a deal to end the record 35-day partial federal shutdown.

The Senate is set to act first, with the House following later Friday. That’s according to lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill.

Trump has agreed to a deal that will fund the government for three weeks, through Feb. 15, while negotiations continue on his demand for billions of dollars to build a long-promised border wall with Mexico.

The legislation set to be passed by Congress will include back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who’ve gone without their salaries during the shutdown. The shutdown has disrupted services and created hardship for many workers.

Trump not giving up on his border wall

Even as President Donald Trump backs down and agrees to a short-term deal that reopens the government, he isn’t giving up on his push for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

And on top of that, he’s threatening to shut down the government again or use his presidential powers to address the border issue if he doesn’t get what he’s calling a “fair deal.”

Trump says the border barrier he wants built isn’t “medieval’ and shouldn’t be “controversial” because it will keep drugs and criminals from crossing into the United States.

He’s calling it “smart” and “see-through” walls.

Trump has announced that the government – after a record 35-day partial shutdown – will temporarily reopen for a few weeks while he negotiates with Congress on his demand for billions of dollars to pay for a border wall.

FBI director calls shutdown “mind-boggling”

The FBI director says the partial government shutdown is “mind-boggling, it’s short-sighted, and it’s unfair.”

In a video message to employees posted on the FBI’s website, Director Christopher Wray says he’s “about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time.”

He says 100 percent of FBI employees are feeling financial strains from the shutdown.

Most agents in the field are working without pay and other employees are furloughed. He says he knows he can count on FBI agents to help people however they can, but he recognizes they have bills to pay.

Wray says FBI leadership should not be getting involved in political fights. But he says senior FBI officials have been advocating for employees behind the scenes

Fewer than half of recalled IRS employees returned to work

Fewer than half the furloughed IRS employees recalled during the shutdown to handle tax returns and taxpayers’ questions and send out refunds, without pay, reported for work as of Tuesday, according to congressional and government aides.

About 30 percent of the 26,000 recalled workers have sought permission under their union contract to be absent from work, IRS officials told House committee staff in a briefing Thursday. The IRS employees’ union contract allows them to be absent from work if they experience hardship during a shutdown.

The official start of the tax filing season comes Monday. The Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, and it reversed the policies of earlier presidents and made the money available to pay hundreds of hundreds of billions in refunds on time. The administration planned to eventually send about 46,000 furloughed IRS employees back to work. That’s nearly 60 percent of the IRS workforce.

Of the 26,000 employees recalled, about 12,000 have come to work, the IRS officials said. Around 5,000 have claimed the hardship exception under the union contract and another 9,000 couldn’t be reached by IRS managers.

FAA reporting delays due to “slight increase in sick leave” at air traffic control centers

The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting delays in air travel because of a “slight increase in sick leave” at two East Coast air traffic control facilities.

FAA spokesman Gregory Martin says the FAA has augmented staffing, rerouted traffic and increased spacing between planes as needed.

The staffing problems were at air traffic centers in Jacksonville, Florida and a Washington D.C. center that controls high-altitude air traffic over seven states.

Martin says safety is being maintained during a period of “minimal impacts” on travel.

LaGuardia Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey both experienced delays in takeoffs.

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