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Longest federal shutdown in history


The partial federal government shutdown over southern U.S border wall funding, has reached crisis proportions, about to become the longest in history, with impacts reaching as far as American Samoa.

Key departments that administer programmes or provide services for American Samoa, are shut down including Interior, USDA, Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security.

Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen’s office says Interior has furloughed most of its staff, though Office of Insular Affairs Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech and Deputy Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula, exempted from the furlough are still working.

Interior and other agency workers have been ordered not to use government phones, laptops and other equipment and will not respond to emails.

OIA has cancelled all travel plans for now—including for gubernatorial inaugurations in the islands. OIA’s Pula did say that only mandatory Compact-Impact aid among island-specific programs, is funded.

Amata expects that to happen, though President Trump has threatened to use executive power to declare a national emergency and use unspent Army Corps of Engineers money or other funds, to build the wall.

Meantime, the White House has ordered some programmes under nine affected departments to keep running, including food stamps and nutrition grants, key for American Samoa, through February.

The White House has also ordered the IRS to process tax refunds, by recalling some furloughed workers.

But national parks, including American Samoa’s park, were largely unstaffed, though some parks workers were called back to clean up bathrooms and trash.

Essential air traffic controllers, TSA inspectors and others are also working without pay.

Other agencies are also seeking White House approval to use fees and unspent funds to extend some services, while lawmaker shave just passed legislation to ensure federal workers get paid once the shutdown ends.

Congress last year, did fund the Pentagon, Health and Human Services, the VA and other agencies.

So, veterans services, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance or CHIP, and the troops are all funded.

HHS funds heating and energy assistance, while HHS and a host of agencies, some shut down, fund child care programmes. DASH— Legal aid is run by the independent non-profit Legal Services Corporation, which appears to be funded.

But so far, there seems to be no end in sight to the bitter, partisan brawl between President Trump and Congressional Democrats and Republicans.

Each side is charging the other with holding federal workers hostage but refusing to negotiate demands, as the government teeters toward the longest shutdown ever, and political pressure reaches a boiling point.

SOURCE: TALANEI NEWS/PACNEWS
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