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Friday December 4th, 2020 5:22AM

The Latest: EPA shutdown keeps some workers on job

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the partial government shutdown (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency will keep disaster-response teams and other essential workers on the job as it becomes the latest agency to start furloughing employees in the government shutdown.

Spokeswoman Molly Block says the EPA will implement its shutdown plan at midnight Friday. That will mean furloughing many of its roughly 14,000 workers.

The furloughs exclude emergency response workers for disasters. Other EPA employees who will be staying on the job include workers deemed essential to preventing immediate public health threats at more than 800 Superfund hazardous-waste sites across the country.

The EPA had enough funding to keep running a week longer than some other agencies. The partial government shutdown comes as President Donald Trump and Congress battle over money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

___

1:20 p.m.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has reacted cautiously to a threat by President Donald Trump to close the border.

Trump tweeted Friday: "We build a Wall or ... close the Southern Border."

Disputes with Congress over funding for the border wall have already led to a partial U.S. government shutdown.

On Friday, Lopez Obrador said: "We are always seeking a good relationship with the United States. We do not want to be rash." Referring to the border wall funding dispute, he said "we have not commented on this issue, because it is an internal affair of the U.S. government."

Trump also threatened to cut off aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, countries from which many migrants have fled.

Lopez Obrador said Mexico will defend migrants.

___

11:25 a.m.

Democrats are holding firm in the standoff over a border wall, saying they won't seriously consider any White House offer to end the government shutdown until it has a public endorsement from President Donald Trump.

Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will not fund Trump's "immoral, ineffective and expensive wall." Hammill said Democrats are waiting for Trump to publicly endorse a proposal to end the shutdown because he "has changed his position so many times."

The White House is accusing Democrats of walking away from the negotiating table. Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats are ignoring an offer for border wall funding below Trump's original $5 billion request.

The shutdown began Dec. 22 and is idling hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

___

11:00 a.m.

The government is offering advice to federal workers saddled with bills they can't pay because of the partial federal shutdown that is expected to stretch into the new year.

Federal workers and contractors forced to stay home or work without pay are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse, which is hung up on President Trump's demand for money to build a border wall.

The Office of Personnel Management is advising furloughed federal workers to speak directly with landlords, mortgage companies and creditors to explain their lack of funds and work out reduced or deferred payment plans.

The OPM suggests that federal workers follow up the calls with letters that recount the conversation and share their phone number, address and the details of the call.

Sample letters can be found at www.opm.gov.

___

10:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has canceled his New Year's plans and will not be traveling to Florida amid of a partial government shutdown that is expected to continue into the new year.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says during a Friday morning appearance on Fox News Channel that the president was in D.C. "all weekend, all Christmas" and is "staying in Washington D.C. over New Year's."

Trump canceled a planned trip last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he usually spends the holidays and many winter weekends.

Mar-a-Lago typically hosts a large, ticketed New Years' Eve party for dues paying members and their guests. In past years guests have included romance novel cover model Fabio and actor Sylvester Stallone.

___

9:10 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump and Democrats are "far apart" on reaching an agreement on ending a partial government shutdown, indicating it could continue for some time.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders tells CBS Friday of Democrats: "They've left the table all together, so of course we are far apart."

Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney complained that Democrats were ignoring an offer from the White House to agree to lower funding levels compared to Trump's initial goal of $5 billion to build the wall. Mulvaney said the offer was made on Saturday, but Democrats are no longer considering that option.

Mulvaney says: "There's not a single Democrat talking to the president of the United States about this deal."

Mulvaney adds of the shutdown: "We do expect this to go on for a while."

___

8:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is threatening to close the U.S. border with Mexico if Democrats in Congress don't agree to fund the construction of a border wall.

Trump tweeted Friday morning that "We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely," unless a funding deal is reached with "the Obstructionist Democrats."

Trump's demand for money to build the border wall and Democrats' refusal to give him what he wants has caused a partial government shutdown that is nearly a week old. Congress adjourned for the week without a resolution in sight.

The shutdown is idling hundreds of thousands of federal workers and beginning to pinch citizens who count on some public services.

___

1 a.m.

It's looking increasingly as if the partial government shutdown will be handed off to a divided government to solve. This, as agreement eludes Washington in the waning days of the Republican monopoly on power.

Now nearly a week old, the impasse is idling hundreds of thousands of federal workers and beginning to pinch citizens who count on varied public services.

For example, the government says it won't issue new federal flood insurance policies or renew expiring ones until the budget for them is restored.

Congress is closing out the week without a resolution in sight over the issue holding up an agreement — Trump's demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico and Democrats' refusal to give him what he wants.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business
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