President Trump says he will sign deal to open government for three weeks
- President Trump announces a temporary deal to open government for three weeks
- The bill would keep government open until February 15th
President Donald Trump on Friday announced he will sign a bill which reopens the federal government for three weeks. During an announcement in the Rose Garden, Trump said Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will put the bill up for a vote immediately.
The bill would keep government open until February 15th. Trump thanked federal workers for their efforts during the shutdown and promised to get backpay to workers as soon as possible. Trump called on lawmakers to work together during the three weeks to find an agreement over funding a border wall which he called “absolutely vital” to national security.
Trump says if a deal isn’t in place he will use the powers afforded to him to guarantee national security. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress the government will either shut down…again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump stated.
The shutdown appears to be affecting the IRS. In the call centers, which answer taxpayer questions over the phone, about 35 percent of calls are being answered, IRS officials told congressional staff, according to one of the aides. The initial plan for filing season was for 80 percent of calls to be answered. The average call time, of 7 to 10 minutes last filing season, has jumped to 25 to 40 minutes.
The IRS is also losing 25 IT staffers every week since the shutdown began, with many finding other jobs, one House aide said, citing the IRS officials’ briefing.
An IRS spokesman declined to comment. News of the number of workers not showing up was first reported by Politico. The House Ways and Means Committee was briefed early Friday morning by IRS officials, who have also briefed the House Appropriations Committee.
IRS employees have said they cannot afford to get to work or pay for child care as they struggle to go more than 30 days without pay. Absences among employees tasked with helping taxpayers understand the refund process are staggering.
Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Trump, was arrested Friday by the FBI in Florida on charges that he lied and tried to tamper with a witness to hide his efforts to learn about releases of Democrats’ hacked emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Stone was charged by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III with seven counts, one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. After the morning arrest at his home, Stone appeared briefly in federal court in Fort Lauderdale wearing a blue polo shirt, jeans and steel shackles on his wrists and ankles. The judge ordered him released on a $250,000 bond.
In charging Stone, Mueller has struck deep inside Trump’s inner circle, charging a friend of the president in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The indictment charges that Stone sought to gather information about hacked Democratic emails at the direction of an unidentified senior Trump campaign official and then engaged in extensive efforts to keep secret the details of those actions says the washington post.