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Monday March 18th, 2019 10:05PM

The Latest: FBI agents say shutdown affecting operations

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's fight for funding for his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall and the partial government shutdown (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

The association that represents thousands of FBI agents says the partial federal government shutdown is affecting the bureau's operations.

The FBI Agents Association sent a petition Thursday to the White House and congressional leaders encouraging them to fund the FBI immediately.

The association's president, Tom O'Connor, told reporters in a conference call that Friday will be the first day that FBI personnel will not receive a paycheck.

He said the problems caused by the shutdown could make it harder to recruit and retain agents, cause delays at the FBI lab and in getting or renewing security clearances.

O'Connor said the FBI's petition is not about politics, but that financial security for agents is important for national security.

__

11:05 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking an attempt by Democrats to force a vote on legislation to reopen the federal government.

Democrats went to the Senate floor Thursday and asked for consent to vote on a series of bills that would end the partial government shutdown, which was in its 20th day.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said the bills were uncontroversial and were broadly supported by Republicans in the past. Cardin says the country is being "held hostage" by President Donald Trump as he seeks funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

McConnell objected to the Democratic request, saying he won't agree to "pointless show votes" on bills Trump won't sign. McConnell noted that Democrats agreed in December to not vote on a funding package until a deal was reached by Trump and leaders from both parties.

The border wall was a signature campaign promise for Trump. Democrats have called a wall costly, ineffective and immoral.

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10:55 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Democrats need help with "their brand new partisan allergy" to a barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Kentucky Republican on Thursday used visual aids on the Senate floor to suggest that Democrats supported such a barrier under President Barack Obama but opposed one under President Donald Trump. He recommended that Democrats "seek some treatment for their brand new party allergy to border security."

Democrats are refusing Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for part of a wall across the southern border. In 2013, some Democrats supported a $46 billion bill for a number of border security measures, including new fencing. But that legislation would have created a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the U.S. illegally. It failed.

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10:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he might skip the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, if the partial government shutdown is not resolved before he's scheduled to leave on Jan. 21.

Trump told reporters Thursday that he wants to go but might not if the shutdown over funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall continues.

Last year, a brief government shutdown threatened to derail his trip to Davos, where he asserted that his "America First" agenda can go hand-in-hand with global cooperation.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO'-shin) is leading the U.S. delegation to the annual Davos event, which courts high-profile businesspeople and political figures and other elites. Other members of the Cabinet are scheduled to attend as well as Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

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10 a.m.

President Donald Trump says it would be "very surprising" for him not to declare a national emergency if he can't make a deal with Democrats to pay for his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Trump is telling reporters as he leaves the White House for a Texas border visit that he would prefer to work with Congress on a deal to end the partial government shutdown and is open to compromise but will use his emergency powers to circumvent Congress if they can't come to agreement.

He said Thursday, "We have to get a win ... or I will declare a national emergency."

He has talked about declaring a national emergency before.

Trump also defends his repeated claims that Mexico will pay for his wall — even when Mexico has said it won't.

Trump says he "never said they were going to write out a check" and would pay for it indirectly "many, many times over."

Democrats have called the wall "immoral."

___

12:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump is taking the shutdown battle to the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking to bolster his case for a border wall after the latest negotiations with Democrats blew up over his funding demands.

During his visit Thursday to McAllen, Texas, Trump plans to visit a border patrol station and a section of the border. McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.

Trump stalked out of a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday as efforts to end the shutdown fell into deeper disarray. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers now face lost paychecks on Friday.

The unraveling talks prompted further speculation about whether Trump would declare a national emergency and try to authorize the wall on his own.

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