Beltway Insider: Trump/Government Shutdown, Border Wall, Syria; Gatwick Drones

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President Donald Trump, with two days before Christmas, followed through on his pledge to shutdown the government sending millions of government workers home without paychecks and on temporary leave until the issue of the Border Wall can be resolved.

According to Gallup, President Trump job approval, over the past week, and increased by two percentage points to 38% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President decreased by four percentage points to 56%.

Trump/Government Shutdown

After nearly three weeks of political wrangling President trump made good on his promise to allow a partial government shutdown as politicians squabble over the proposed funding for the Border Wall.

With the President, who is also a former developer, adamant the Wall, which many Americans oppose, will cost nearly $5billion dollars to complete and democrats who control the house, which is also an indication of the temperature of the voting population, are willing to provide up to $1.3billion in border funding.


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Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), recently met with the President in what has been billed as a Border Wall showdown with the president finally saying he would "proudly shutdown the government for the wall."

Both the Democrats and The President are utilizing the media to further the argument regarding the Wall, and the partial shutdown which goes into effect December 24, 2018.

"In a joint statement issued Monday evening, Pelosi and Schumer said the country cannot afford "a Trump Shutdown" at this time. The president, the statement said, "knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement,"' The Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post, in the same December 10, 2018 article, also included the statement made by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Fox News, '"The number is $5 billion. If there is a better way to get there than what the president has laid out, then they need to come with an alternative. They can't come and say they want to shut the government down for no reason because they don't want border security."'

Partial Government Shutdown

Issued on December 18, 2018, an Executive Order authored and signed by President Donald Trump states – Section 1. All Executive department and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Monday, December 24, 2018, the day before Christmas Day.

Sec. 2. The heads of executive departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on December 24, 2018, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.

Sec. 3.  December 24, 2018, shall be considered as falling within the scope of Executive Order 11582 of February 11, 1971, and of 5 U.S.C. 5546 and 6103(b) and other similar statutes insofar as they relate to the pay and leave of employees of the United States.

The Executive Order follows with a final statement to the Office of Personnel management to implement this order.

As the deadline looms, and Christmas Eve is a Monday, many people are wondering what government agencies will be open and which are directly affected by the shutdown.

The shutdown effects agencies deemed "non-essential" and that is also an interpretative term with each president, including the current administration determining what agency is and is not essential.

Post Office, Benefit Offices Open

The Postal Service will be open, utilizing leftover funding from past years, for the hours in which each office states. Until further notice the postal service will be fully operational.

All benefit agencies, Social Security, SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, Veterans will be operational. Monies will be available without interruption.

All Active Duty Military are exempt from any shutdown. The United States will not be without a defense of its border.

The Smithsonian Museums, in Washington, D.C. which are deemed non-essential, have sent messages via twitter that they will remain open through January 1, 2019.

IRS Closed

The Internal Revenue Service, The EPA, State Department Services, (Passports and Visa Services) and National Parks will be directly effected by the shut down with employees deemed furloughed until further notice. Offices could be short staffed

The majority of the population will not feel the pinch of the shutdown although a long furlough will affect the voting population should the shut down last for more than one month, as no IRS, no federal return. The Office of Personal Management could allow for some office to be short-staffed.

This is not a complete listing of all agencies affected by the partial government shutdown.


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Border Wall or Secure Fence Act of 2006

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 signed into law by former President George W. Bush, in October 2006, has in the dozen or so years since the signing evolved into a contentious and controversial Border Wall.

While many citizens are up in arms over the current administrations views of the wall, which may very well be the reason behind the backbiting, bickering, internal strife and power struggle between the two parties is reduced to dollars and cents.

When the Secure Fence Act was introduced it sailed through both houses passing the House with 283-138 followed by a landslide victory in the Senate of passing 80-19. It was a bi-partisan effort which many top democrats, even those fighting adamantly against it now, believe would be an important step toward immigration reform.

During the Secure Fence Act former President George Bush, said, "The White House Office of the Press Secretary stated that the Act "Authorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border; Authorizes more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, and lighting to help prevent people from entering our country illegally; Authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border."

Under former President Bush's plan, the budget for Border control, by 2008, according to the October 2006 released statement on the Fence Act, was to increase from $4.1billion to $10billion, which included all aspects of Border Control from boots on the ground to miles of fence erected in troubled or problematic stretches along the southern border.

The Border Wall, a campaign promise of President Trump, which was always in place and not really anything new, just a dusted off law that has already in part been realized as a 700miles of a double chain link fence with barbed wire and flood lights and infrared camera poles has been in place for more than a decade.

In 2006, the life-cycle cost, which has never been mentioned by any politician, was slated at nearly $1billion annually. In addition to key problematic troubled spots, the Wall's budgetary costs under this current administration, has ballooned to consume the entire budget.

A $5Billion Wall allotment will increase border control to more than $15Billion per budget year. After which, Border Control budget will need to include a $1billion Wall maintenance. The Customs and Border Enforcement agency, if granted at $15Billion dollar budget once, will expect funding to continue at the same level throughout the remainder of the current administration.

 

One politician in the history of the Border Wall Secure Fence has introduced a "Virtual Fence." Former South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint introduced a bill to utilize the most advanced technological security available at the time. A dozen years later and faced with a burgeoning budget of nearly $15billion, reviewing and reworking the "Virtual Fence" may hold more merit now than it did at the time.

While Trump has made good on his promise to shut down government if funding for the Border Wall was not included in the budget, as a former developer, unless unforeseen delays come with the territory in which the wall could end up costing more than anticipated as government projects rarely come in under budget.

Trump Pulls Funding For Syrian Freedom Fighters

President Trump announced this week he was ending the federal aid package to Syrian freedom fighters, an action that raised alarm throughout his own administration with exiting Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis criticizing the move.

His replacement was annoucned immediately. His tenure as Secretary of Defense, a position he has held for less than one year, had already been announced and he was expected to finish the year. His comments over Trump's action ended his tenure.


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President Trump announced via Twitter, December 23, 2018, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will be promoted to Secretary of Defense.

"I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!" Trump tweeted. Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 

The United States has funded both the Syrian freedom fighters and the five bordering nations that initially accepted Syrian refugees for more eight years. The initial effort to topple Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad began during the Arab Spring wave of democracy that spread through the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula in the Spring of 2011.

Assad, as the Beltway Insider wrote on December 16, 2018, has been known to use chemical weapons on his own people, give the Islamic State safe haven, maintain night bombing raids on innocent women and children housed in "safe zones" living in buildings barely standing from previous bombing raids. During the fight for Aleppo, he burned the buses used to transport Syrians out of harms way and into Turkey.

Many nations have attempted to intervene and assist in a ceasefire. With several occurring over the war's eight year history. This past year Assad has continued his use of Chemical weapons, violating the U.N. Proliferation of life treaties, poor U.S. representation at the United Nations, as well as the current administration failed to provide a united front against Assad which stopped a UN resolution.

A defiant Trump decided to withdraw all troops. He hasn't yet indicated if all funding of neighboring nations housing refugees or if funding the rebels, as was the United States policy in the beginning of the war.

London's Gatwick Airport Closes

London's Gatwick Airport closed for two days as drones were spotted circling the airport stranding millions of holiday travelers during the busiest traveling days of the year.

While not classified as a terror attack, the drone activity, which resulted in a suspension of all services, was called a "deliberate act to disrupt holiday travel." The Airport's communications team released several statements indicating two drones were spotted flying over the Gatwick Airport airfield this week.

Gatwick Airport CEO, Stewart Wingate released this statement, "On behalf of everyone at Gatwick I would like to repeat how sorry we are for the inconvenience this criminal behaviour has caused passengers and we share their real anger and frustration that it has happened. This is a highly targeted activity which has been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas. We are working very closely with the police and the security services to try to resolve this for passengers." To access the complete statement read here


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Police initially arrested a couple who have since been released for lack of evidence and the investigation continues. More than 43million passengers pass through London Gatwick annually. The drones remain a mystery.

Merry Christmas

Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the beloved cartoon Peanuts and the perennial loser Charlie Brown, his beloved dog, Snoopy. Lucy Van Pelt, always ready to dispense advice, her brother Linus Van Pelt, Schroder, the piano virtuoso, Pig Pen, and the little red haired girl, in his "A Charlie Brown Christmas" insisted on including scripture at the animated classic's ending when Linus responds to a despondent Charlie Brown as he, a bit depressed, asks, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

"Linus' King James version scripture reading from Luke 2: 8-14, read: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.A Charlie Brown Christmas.

To all everywhere wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and for our friends around the world Joyeux Noël, Frohe Weinachten, Feliz Navidad, Buon Natale, Feliz Natal, Vrolijk kerstfeest, Crăciun fericit, Wesołych świąt Bożego Narodzenia. Peace to all everywhere.

For more information on President Donald Trump: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com

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