US shutdown: Trump signs off on back pay for federal workers

As the shutdown stretches into its 26th day, US House Speaker Pelosi urges Trump to reschedule State of Union address.

    Union members and Internal Revenue Service workers rally outside an IRS service centre to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Covington, Kentucky [John Minchillo/AP Photo] 

 [Daylife]
    Union members and Internal Revenue Service workers rally outside an IRS service centre to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Covington, Kentucky [John Minchillo/AP Photo] [Daylife]

    US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed legislation providing 800,000 federal employees with back pay when the partial government shutdown ends, even though a conclusion to the impasse remains nowhere in sight.

    As the shutdown stretches into its 26th day, Trump is also scheduled to meet with a bipartisan group of politicians. 

    Whether the meeting is related to the shutdown was not immediately clear, however. Neither the White House nor politicians' offices immediately responded to a request for details.

    Meanwhile, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to reschedule the annual State of the Union, an address in which the president outlines the administration's goals for the year. The speech is currently scheduled for January 29.

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    The shutdown began on December 22, after Trump insisted he would not sign legislation funding a quarter of government agencies unless it included more than $5bn for a wall along the US border with Mexico.

    The wall was a signature Trump campaign promise before the 2016 presidential election.

    At the time, Trump said Mexico would pay for it but has since backtracked, denying that he ever said Mexico would directly foot the bill.

    Most Americans blame Trump

    On Wednesday, Trump continued to blame Democrats for the standoff and trumpet his support for the wall, tweeting that wall projects around the world "have all been recognised as close to 100% successful. Stop the crime at our Southern Border!"

    It was not immediately clear what wall projects he was referring to.

    His tweets appear unlikely to move Democrats, who have controlled the House of Representatives since January 3. They maintain the wall is expensive, ineffective and immoral. Instead, Democrats say they will allocate more than $1.3bn for broader border security measures that do not include a wall. 

    Senate Democrats have planned an event on the steps of the Capitol intended to highlight the havoc the shutdown is wreaking as 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or required to work without pay, and contractors are not receiving their payments.

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    Economists have estimated that each week the shutdown continues will shave off 0.1 percent of economic growth.

    More than half of Americans blame Trump for the government shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

    SOURCE: News agencies