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Saunders to Trump: Don’t Shut Down the Government For Political Gain

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By AFSCME Staff Explore the Issues Legislation Federal Budget & Taxes

AFSCME President Lee Saunders has sound advice for President Donald Trump – don’t shut down the federal government and quit playing political games with the lives of federal workers.

Saunders urged Trump to “come to the table and end the brinkmanship that is already wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of dedicated public service workers, their families and their communities.”

In a Dec. 11 meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, Trump said he’d be “proud” to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t give him $5 billion to build a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border – something the majority of the public and many Capitol Hill lawmakers – including members of Trump’s own party – oppose.

“It is irresponsible to head down this path, especially around the holidays, all to pursue a divisive partisan agenda that voters have flatly rejected,” Saunders said in a statement. “Congress has already reached bipartisan agreement on every element needed to fund the federal government, so this is entirely avoidable. The ball is in the president’s court.”

Trump wants $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding to build the wall, though as a candidate he promised to make Mexico pay for it. However, by Wednesday, he appeared to be backing down in the face of overwhelming opposition to a shutdown that would begin Friday if a funding deal isn’t approved before then.

The Senate, controlled by Trump’s allies, passed a spending bill to keep the government operational until Feb. 8, 2019, but the bill contained no funding for Trump’s border wall. The House was expected to vote on that bill Thursday. But the vote was derailed when Trump reversed course and indicated he would not sign a bill that had no wall funding, making a shutdown highly likely.