CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The federal government will remain partially shut down Friday, marking three weeks since the deadlock between President Donald Trump and Congress began.
Democratic leaders remain opposed to Trump’s $5.7 billion request for a southern border wall. Trump, who visited the border Thursday, told reporters he will declare a national emergency to build a wall if congressional action is not made.
Trump made the wall a central promise of his presidential campaign; he repeatedly said Mexico would pay for such structure.
While the government remains partially closed, around 800,000 federal employees will miss their paycheck on Friday. More than half of the workers have been working without pay since the shutdown began on Dec. 22.
Nine federal departments and multiple agencies are closed because of the shutdown, including the departments of Agriculture, Justice, Housing and Urban Development and State.
The House of Representatives passed two bills Thursday to open the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Transportation. None of West Virginia’s three House members voted in favor of either resolution.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., called for a bipartisan solution to fully re-open the government as well as fund border security efforts.
“Both Democrats and Republicans need to stop digging in their heels and work to find a solution that allows federal employees to go back to work and provides adequate funding for border security,” McKinley said in a press release. “We can’t let this shutdown drag on; federal employees and all American families deserve a resolution.”
McKinley added if Trump and Congress cannot reach a deal, the president should declare a national emergency and address border security on his own.
“For years our southern border has been used by drug cartels, sex traffickers and criminals to enter illegally, but recently it has also become a humanitarian crisis. We have seen a drastic increase in unaccompanied minors and families entering through the southern border. We need to address the crisis at the border immediately,” the congressman said.
According to the United States Border Patrol, apprehensions at the southern border in fiscal year 2018 involved around 397,000 individuals, an increase from nearly 304,000 people the fiscal year prior.
Apprehensions at the southern border are down since fiscal year 2000 when agents arrested more than 1.6 million people.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, marijuana is most commonly seized by agents in between ports of entry with agents seizing more than 439,000 pounds in the most recent fiscal year.
Methamphetamine was the second-most seized drug with less than 10,400 pounds seized, although the amount has increased since fiscal year 2012. The most common form of drug smuggling by Mexican criminal organizations involves transporting drugs through points of entry.
The Department of Homeland Security noted last June there has been an increase of minors used to enter the country, but the cases represent the minority of entries into the United States.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., complimented the president on Twitter for visiting the border.
“Our country deserves better. Lives are at stake,” she tweeted. “From human trafficking victims to communities affected by the drug epidemic.”
Capito, the chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, visited the southern border in August.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Tuesday he will donate the salary he receives during the government shutdown to food banks in West Virginia. He also said 340,000 West Virginians depend on food stamps.
“Children will go hungry, pregnant mothers will not get the nutrients they need and our elderly neighbors will not have dinner on the table. This is unacceptable,” he said Tuesday. “In West Virginia, we look out for one another and I know food banks across the state will be doing their best to fill this void. I applaud them for always stepping up to serve their communities.”
Manchin will make multiple stops Friday and Monday to food banks, while also speaking to federal employees impacted by the government shutdown.