Unshutdown: State Department Finds Pot of Gold

President Trump reportedly “remains resolute” in his determination to keep the federal government closed for as long as it takes to build his big ol’ border wall. So…explain this one, would you? As the Associated Press reports, the U.S. State Department somehow has money to pay people to return to work:

The State Department on Thursday instructed all U.S. diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at least temporarily despite the ongoing government shutdown…[Pols emphasis]

…It was not immediately clear where the money was found, but the department said it would use “existing funds as well as other available fiscal authorities to shift existing balances to restart payroll funding.”

Salaries cannot be guaranteed beyond the next pay period, which ends on Feb. 14, if the shutdown does not end by then, the department said. However, it said it would “review its balances and available legal authorities to see if other flexibilities may be available.”

The department said it was taking the step because it had become clear that the lapse in funding is harming essential diplomatic and national security objectives.

Well, yeah, of course the shutdown is “harming essential diplomatic and national security objectives,” but where in the hell did all of this money come from?

Perhaps, as TIME magazine noted on Wednesday, Trump’s resoluteness might not be as firm as he would have you believe:

In recent days, the Trump Administration has taken several moves to soften the effects of the shutdown. Some measures have been targeted broadly, allowing taxpayers to receive refunds, banks to process mortgages and airports to be inspected. Others are aimed at key Trump constituencies, ensuring that hunters can access federal lands and farmers can receive loans. And some seem designed to hit particularly close to home: the Administration went out of its way to keep park rangers staffing a historic clock tower at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

It’s not entirely surprising Trump is looking for ways to limit the costs of what is now the longest-running shutdown in U.S. history. No doubt the president has seen the polls showing the majority of the public blames him and disapproves of the shutdown. And with the effects of a shuttered federal government only growing — airport lines, agricultural woes and costs to the economy are getting worse by the day — the political price of his face-off with Democrats is rising, too.

Perhaps this is how the shutdown really comes to an end. We might be only a few weeks away from Trump answering questions about the shutdown with, “What shutdown? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

2 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ckonola says:

    He has to make these announcements publicly! I read one report that during a shut-down, furloughed staff are not allowed to access their government E-mails. They were considering notifying everyone via certified mail, but didn't know where they would find the postage money. (Can't remember if I read it in the Washington Post or the New York Times–one of those fake news sites.)

     

  2. So far, Trump is "finding" money in departmentally collected fees and in unspent money from department-run projects. This is kind of like having Colorado run without TABOR-controlled funds, only on independent fees – except the Federal government doesn't have Colorado's years of working around semi-broken budget processes to prepare.

    E.g. the parks are open because Trump has been diverting previously collected park admissions from long-term local improvements to short-term maintenance.

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