Trump administration officials began taking extraordinary steps to contain the fallout from the partial federal government shutdown Sunday, as the budget impasse between the president and congressional Democrats showed no signs of nearing a breakthrough.
The administration has also signaled it would be willing to restore some version of an Obama-era program that allowed children in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to apply for refugee resettlement in the United States, according to an official with knowledge of the proposal.
But a border wall is “central to any strategy,” Vought wrote, and Democrats — who have said the wall should not be tied to an agreement to reopen the government — remained skeptical of any overtures by the president, suggesting that there is no end in sight to the shutdown, which has entered its third week.
The letters instruct the landlords to use their reserve accounts so that no one is evicted, HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said. He said the budget and contract staff are “scouring for money” to figure out how to fund the contracts on an interim basis.
Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service officials are trying to determine whether they will be able to pay tax refunds next month, despite the fact that they said last year they would be prohibited from doing so in the event of a government shutdown.
And the National Park Service, under pressure because of deteriorating conditions at some of its most popular parks, authorized tapping entrance fees to pay for trash pickup and other operations that have halted as a result of the shutdown — a move some critics said may be illegal.
Under a memorandum signed Saturday by the Interior Department’s acting secretary, David Bernhardt, and obtained by The Washington Post, park managers will be permitted to bring on additional staff to clean restrooms, haul trash, patrol the parks and open areas that have been shut because of the budget standoff.
Theresa Pierno, president and chief executive of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, said in an email that drawing from visitors’ fees would drain money that was supposed to be spent on addressing the parks’ massive maintenance backlog.
“For those national parks that don’t collect fees, they will now be in the position of competing for the same inadequate pot of money to protect their resources and visitors,” Pierno said. “Draining accounts dry is not the answer.”
Congressional Democrats and some park advocates question whether the park-fee move is legal because the fees that parks collect under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act are expressly designated to support visitor services instead of operations and basic maintenance.
The administration’s proposal comes after an unprecedented surge in the number of migrant families crossing the border.
Nielsen and Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have pushed hard to include the $800 million, according to an official with knowledge of the discussion, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They went to bat for this,” the official said, viewing the proposal as a significant concession to Democratic demands for better treatment of migrants.
State officials are trying to compensate for the shortfall when it comes to welfare and food stamp recipients, but Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Governors Association, said in an interview that at some point, state flexibility will run out.
“For every day that goes on, it becomes increasingly problematic for states,” Pattison said. “They are having to front money for federal programs. They can’t run deficits like the federal government. They’re on tight budgets, and it’s not like they have a lot of money lying around.”