As the partial government shutdown enters Day 21, federal workers and furloughed contractors missed the first payday Friday as President Donald Trump attempts to push the US away from democracy by discussing the potential of declaring a national emergency.
Around 1.6 million Americans are missing paychecks, which could result in failed bill payments, drops in credit scores, evictions, and even health repercussions.
That number includes 800,000 federal employees and another 800,000 Americans who are employed by federal contractors who supply services such as custodians and janitors to government agencies.
NBC’s Tammy Leitner spoke with a family that has losts its income during the shutdown.
Leroy Smith is a furloughed employee of a federal contractor. His wife, Judy Smith, suffers from seizures and to control them needs medication that costs about $20,000 a year.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman, called Trump’s threat to use federal money appropriated for other purposes as “the actions of an autocrat” as the Trump shutdown tied with a December 1995 closure as the longest in history.
“If Harry Truman could not compel the steel industry to not strike at time of war, Donald Trump willnot be able to declare a national emergency because he’s not getting his way with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” said Scarborough, as the White House is weighing a diversion of funds from disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, California and elsewhere.
Pundits also dismissed the idea that any real national emergency exists. Drugs and other smuggled items are not typically coming into country over the border, and immigration is actually at a 20 year low.
Twelve Republicans in the House voted with Democrats to open parts of the government that are now closed, but only four GOP senators are ready to break the president’s obstruction.
Trump recently claimed he has ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop providing to California disaster relief funds, which are intended to help get victims back on their feet and help ravaged communities recover.
His stated rationale for the cruel threat is his long-disproven claim that wildfires in California are the result of poor forest management by the state.
There are many reasons the president’s claim is false, not the least of which is that most forests in California are federally owned — and therefore, currently managed by his own administration.
State and local governments in California manage a scant 3 percent of forestlands in the state.
American citizens in Puerto Rico are also worried that Trump may divert reconstruction funds intended to help the island recover from Hurricane Maria.
“Trump’s scapegoating of immigrants crossing illegally from Mexico and false allegations about a national emergency demonstrate that his so-called crisis is totally manufactured, said Democratic activist Lisa McCormick. “I want to remind the president and politicians that this shutdown isn’t a game. This makes our nation appear weak and divided, playing into the hands of America’s enemies overseas, including the Russians who may have helped put Trump in the White House.”
“After the deadliest and costliest two-year stretch of disasters in modern U.S. history, Trump is now considering diverting $13.9 billion in disaster aid to fund the construction of the border wall—money that was intended for survivors in Puerto Rico, California, Florida & Texas,” said meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
“Climate change is one of the main drivers of global migration,” said Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Green New Deal advocate who shared a message from a Minneapolis resident who tweeted: “If it weren’t for climate change, I wouldn’t be in America. Drought and famine in Somalia led my family here. It impacted me before I was even alive.”
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