Trump’s proposal to end shutdown hasn’t picked up traction

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s proposal to break through the budget deadlock appeared to be gaining little traction Monday, as another missed paycheck loomed for hundreds of thousands of workers and the partial federal shutdown stretched into its fifth week.

Despite the fanfare of the president’s announcement, voting in Congress was not expected to unfold until later in the week. Even then it seemed doubtful that legislation based on Trump’s plan had any chance of swiftly passing the Senate. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority but would need Democrats to reach the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to advance.

Not a single Democrat publicly expressed support for the deal in the 48 hours since Trump announced it. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s office reiterated Monday they that are unwilling to negotiate any border security funding until Trump re-opens the government.

In Texas, It’s Not Just Federal Workers Who Are Affected By The Government Shutdown

On Tuesday, it will be one month since the start of what is already the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, albeit a partial one. It’s certainly taking its toll on federal employees having to work without pay, including those here in Texas.

Brian Kirkpatrick of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Richard Pineda of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas El Paso and Kevin Diaz of the Houston Chronicle’s Washington bureau are all exploring the shutdown’s effect in the Lone Star State, and they say that it’s having ripple effects beyond just government workers.

Court: No New Offshore Drilling Work During Federal Shutdown

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A federal judge in South Carolina has turned back the Trump administration’s attempt to continue preparatory work for offshore drilling during the federal government’s partial shutdown, issuing a ruling in a federal lawsuit challenging the overall expansion plans.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel halted federal agencies “from taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action” for permits to conduct testing that’s needed before drilling work can begin.

The ruling comes a few days after President Donald Trump’s decision this week to recall workers at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management so they could continue to process testing permits for possible drilling off the Atlantic coastline. The recall drew an objection from the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva (gri-HAWL-vah) of Arizona. He called on Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to reverse course or provide a briefing on the legal justification for the move.

Earlier this month, South Carolina joined a federal lawsuit opposing the administration’s plans to conduct offshore drilling tests using seismic air guns. Gergel is overseeing that case, initially filed by environmental groups and municipalities along the state’s coast.

US News & World Report

Oil & gas industry sidesteps government shutdown

Despite the ongoing partial government shutdown, U.S. oil and gas will continue to flow because the Trump administration has deemed that energy production is essential for the good of the U.S. economy, not to mention his desire to keep prices at the pump low.

The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees oil and gas on federal land, has employees “working on selected energy, minerals, rights of way, grazing, and associated activities” and are now “exempt” and expected to continue working during the shutdown. The bureau employees are being paid through “permanent appropriations” and unspent funds from previous fiscal years.

Va. Senate approves Amazon package, narrowly rejects minimum-wage bill

The Virginia Senate easily approved state tax incentives of up to $750 million over the next 15 years for Amazon to build a headquarters facility in Arlington. It also narrowly rejected a proposal for a $15 minimum wage.

The Amazon package, which passed 35 to 5, would provide cash grants to the online retail giant on condition that the company create tens of thousands of jobs with average pay of at least $150,000 a year.

The bill still needs the House’s approval, but it is expected to pass there. Supporters from both parties said the state would reap several times more in tax revenue than it would give in grants to Amazon.

The Washington Post

CEOs say the trade war is killing business confidence

Rising populism, policy uncertainty and trade conflicts have led to a sharp drop in confidence among global CEOs. The share of chief executives who think the global economy will slow over the next year has jumped to nearly 30% from 5% in 2018, according to a survey of 1,300 top business leaders by audit giant PwC.
The wave of pessimism extends to company earnings. Just 35% of CEOs said they are “very confident” about their growth prospects over the next 12 months, a sharp decline from 42% last year. “CEOs’ views of the global economy mirror the major economic outlooks, which are adjusting their forecasts downward in 2019,” Bob Moritz, global chairman at PwC, said in a statement. “With the rise of trade tension and protectionism it stands to reason that confidence is waning.” CNN Money

TSA security checkpoint at Houston airport remains closed until further notice

It’s unknown when Terminal B at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) will return to normal operations as the partial government shutdown drags on. The Houston Airport System announced Jan. 16 that the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint and the ticketing counter in Terminal B will remain closed until further notice. The closure began the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 13 and is due to staffing issues associated with the shutdown. Passengers who are flying out of Terminal B have to check in and go through security at Terminal C or E before heading to their departing gate by walking or taking the Skyway tram to Terminal B. Click here for maps of the airport. Houston Business Journal

Democrats to new Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp: ‘Medicaid expansion is the only answer

Gov. Brian Kemp’s first State of the State address Thursday outlined his plan to boost teacher pay by $3,000 this year and push for a Medicaid waiver that could give the state more flexibility to use federal healthcare dollars. State Democrats welcomed his bipartisan tone but were critical of a waiver program they derided as a half-measure. And they demanded full expansion of the Medicaid program, which Kemp and other Republican leaders have cast as too costly.

Government shutdown leaves Mississippi’s NASA employees, contractors without pay

NASA’s name is on Stennis Space Center’s front gate but nobody in the space agency is working inside its sprawling facility in Hancock County. NASA employees and their contractors haven’t been on the payroll since the partial government shutdown began Dec. 22. Phone calls to offices go to voice mail and some parking lots are empty. The nearby Infinity Science Center, the official visitor center for Stennis, is open but bus tours of the space center are not running. Services such as the switchboard and security are still in place, supporting the 40 or so government agencies, aerospace industries and other companies located at the facility which has a total of about 5,000 employees. Mississippi Business Journal

The 2019 Government Shutdown: How It Stacks Up, and What It Really Costs

From a 30,000-foot vantage, a government shutdown doesn’t cost much. S&P Global estimates that the border-wall impasse—the longest in history, unresolved at press time—shaved only $3.6 billion off the U.S. economy over its first three weeks. But other barometers, including rising airport delays and a screeching halt in IPOs, remind us how much our commerce depends on a well-functioning state. And a recent tumble in consumer confidence points to the ripple effects of an erosion of faith in a system that routinely stops public servants from serving the public. That’s a cost that could become incalculably high.