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Trump says he’s ‘prepared’ to keep government shut for years | Trump News

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US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he is prepared to keep parts of the government closed for years if he does not get the billions of dollars he has requested to help fund a wall on the border with Mexico. 

Following a meeting with congressional leaders, Trump confirmed that he told top Democrats that he would keep the government closed for months or years if he did not get wall funding. 

“Absolutely I said that,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

“I don’t think it will. But I am prepared,” he added. “I hope it doesn’t go on even before a few more days. It really could open very quickly. We had a very, very productive meeting, and we’ve come a long way”. 

The comments came after the president and congressional leaders failed to strike a deal to end a partial shutdown, now into its 14th day, that has centred on Trump’s demand for funding for a border wall, one of his key campaign promises.  

Trump’s tone was more positive compared to the Democrats, who said the conversation was “lengthy and sometimes contentious”.

Nancy Pelosi, the newly elected Democratic speaker of the House, said that her party recognises “that we really cannot resolve this until we open up [the] government and we made that very clear to the president”. 





US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak to reporters [Jim Young/Reuters]

Key parts of the US government shut down on December 22 after Trump refused to back down on his request for more than $5bn in funding for a wall on the southern border, which the Democrats oppose. 

‘We can call a national emergency’

Trump on Friday also said that he has consider declaring a national emergency to build the wall – a move that if he moved forward with would likely be challenged in the courts.  

“We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it … But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” Trump said. 

The US Constitution assigns Congress the power over funding the federal government, so Trump would likely face legal challenges if he tried to bypass Congress on financing the wall.

He dismissed those concerns, saying that his administration can call a national emergency because “of the security of our country, absolutely”.

Asked if declaring a national emergency was a threat hanging over Democrats, Trump said, “I’d never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do that, yes.” 

Unease among some Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said on Friday that administration officials and congressional staff will meet this weekend to attempt to reach a deal to recommend to Trump to reopen the government. 

Late on Thursday, the House passed two Democratic bills to immediately reopen government agencies for varying lengths of time, despite a White House veto threat.

McConnell, a Republican, rejected the House effort saying the president would not sign into law, although the Senate last month approved identical legislation. 

McConnell faces increasing pressure from within his caucus, especially from vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2020, as several conservative senators urged action to reopen the government, according to US media. 

His colleague, Susan Collins, also called for the Senate to pass the funding bills, while several other Republicans urged an end to the shutdown, the Hill and New York Times reported.

“We should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” US Senator Cory Gardner told The Hill on Thursday.

Pelosi on Friday urged McConnell to bring the measures up for a vote.

“The president can sign or not but he should never say, ‘I’m not even going to put it on the president’s desk,'” she told MSNBC, noting Congress can pass bills without Trump’s support.

Democrats back other border security measures aside from the wall, and their two-bill package passed on Thursday includes $1.3bn for border fencing and $300m for other border security items such as technology and cameras.

Without a deal to end the partial government shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security will not be able to bring some furloughed workers back to their jobs while others continue to be forced to work without paychecks for the time being. 

Other federal agencies were also hobbled, including the Justice Department, Commerce Department and departments of Agriculture, Labor, Interior and Treasury.

The partial shutdown also is straining the country’s immigration system, worsening backlogs in courts and complicating hiring for employers. More than 800,000 federal workers are affected. 

In a December 11 meeting with Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut the government over the security issue and would not blame Democrats. He has since said they are responsible.

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Ottawa transit commission hopes to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for OC Transpo workers

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Ottawa’s transit commission is pushing local and provincial health officials to recognize the role OC Transpo operators have played in keeping the city running during the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to bump train and bus drivers in the vaccination queue amid a recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting transit workers.

More than 100 OC Transpo staff across the entire organization have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to an update at Wednesday morning’s transit commission meeting.

Of those cases, 26 employees are currently recovering from the disease in self-isolation.

OC Transpo has seen a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, with Ottawa city council receiving reports of eight operators testing positive for the virus over a recent eight-day period.

Transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert attempted to find out how many of the total cases are traced to workplace transmission, but OC Transpo boss John Manconi said he’s been advised by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches that he can’t share that information for privacy reasons.

Transit operators are listed in the second priority group of essential workers as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine sequencing plans, but several commissioners speaking Wednesday wanted to get the city’s bus and train drivers bumped higher in the order.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Glen Gower both put forward motions looking to get front-line OC Transpo employees prioritization in vaccine sequencing, but others pointed out that the much-debated public health topic of who gets the vaccine and when is well beyond the scope of the transit commission.

“We are not in a position in transit commission to be decreeing, or making an edict, about what group of essential workers is more at risk than others and should be prioritized. That should be left up to public health experts,” Wright-Gilbert said.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who also chairs the Ottawa Board of Health, reflected on the board’s four-plus-hour meeting on Monday evening, during which vaccine sequencing and prioritizing essential workers dominated the conversation.

“Vaccine sequencing is obviously a very difficult maze to get through,” he said.

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COVID-19: Ottawa police announce end of 24-7 presence at Ontario-Quebec border

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Less than two days after the Ontario government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, calling for non-essential traffic to be stopped at the province’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba, the Ottawa Police Service has announced it is stopping its 24-hour checkpoints.

According to a statement issued by the service Tuesday evening, the around-the-clock border checkpoints were set to end as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday in favour of rotating checkpoints across the city throughout the day until Ontario’s temporary regulations end.

“Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS has been working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts. The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the statement said.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.”

The statement also said the police service, while working to comply with the provincial order, was focused on education and enforcement actions that “support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities”

Officers said they will be conducting daily assessments on border crossings and that there could be further changes.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the border closures are ultimately subject to the discretion of local police enforcing the regulations.

“Local police services are best positioned to determine the operational deployments necessary to ensure the continued safety of their communities,” the spokesperson said, noting that the order’s regulations still apply to individuals entering the province.

The temporary order restricts Quebec residents from entering Ontario. If prompted, individuals must stop when directed by an enforcement officials and provide their reason for entering the province.

The main exemptions to the restrictions include if the person’s main home is in the province, if they work in Ontario, if they’re transporting goods, if they’re exercising Indigenous or treaty rights, if they need health care or if there’s a basis on compassionate grounds.

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COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa: Nearly half of all residents in their 60s have at least one dose

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health’s latest COVID-19 vaccination update shows that nearly half of all residents 60 to 69 years old have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a figure that has all but doubled in the past week.

OPH’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 58,000 residents 60 to 69 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 49.3 per cent of that age group’s population in Ottawa. Last Wednesday, OPH reported 30,000 residents 60 to 69 had had at least one dose, which was 25.4 per cent.

As age demographics get younger, the population grows larger and the coverage by percentage may appear to grow more slowly, even if clinics are vaccinating greater numbers of people. For example, the latest figures show that 83 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had at least one dose. By raw population that’s 60,000 people, only slightly higher than half of all people in their 60s.

Vaccinations are open through the Ontario portal to anyone 60 and older and, this week, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for administration at pharmacies and primary care clinics to anyone in Ontario 40 and older.

OPH reported a new shipment this week of 25,740 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government.

The number of eligible residents (i.e. 16 and older) with at least one dose of a vaccine is now up to 28 per cent.

Tuesday was Ottawa’s second-busiest day for vaccinations overall, with the OPH reporting 9,729 shots administered. Last Friday saw 9,887 shots administered in a single day.

QUICK STATS

  • Ottawa residents with at least one dose: 248,668
  • Ottawa residents with two doses: 26,722
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with at least one dose: 28 per cent
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with two doses: 3 per cent
  • Percent of total population with at least one dose: 24 per cent
  • Percent of total population with two doses: 3 per cent

VACCINATION COVERAGE BY AGE FOR OTTAWA RESIDENTS WITH AT LEAST ONE DOSE

  • 10-19: 1.6 per cent (1,804 people)
  • 20-29: 8.3 per cent (13,452 people)
  • 30-39: 9.5 per cent (14,999 people)
  • 40-49: 12.9 per cent (17,350 people)
  • 50-59: 28.8 per cent (40,320 people)
  • 60-69: 49.3 per cent (58,627 people)
  • 70-79: 82.9 per cent (62,808 people)
  • 80-89: 87.5 per cent (29,358 people)
  • 90+: 89.2 per cent (7,893 people)
  • Unknown age: 2,057 people 

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