Friday, January 11 2019

Pelosi Laments ‘Subsidies’ and “Food Stamps, All the Rest, Being Held Up by President’s Petulance’ Featured

Written by Terence P. Jeffrey

( - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) at her press briefing on Thursday expressed chagrin at all of the Americans who are foregoing government benefits—such as food stamps, farm subsidies and federal housing—because of what she called President Donald Trump’s “petulance” and “obstinance."

Farmers “are expecting, and not receiving, what the President promised when he did his, shall we say, misinformed trade policies,” she said. “They also have subsidies and other needs as they plan for the growing season.

“And food safety inspections, food stamps, all the rest, being held up by the President’s petulance,” she continued.

“There’s so much that HUD has to do with housing in our country that is forestalled by the President’s obstinance,” she said.

Here is an excerpt from Pelosi’s opening statement at her Thursday briefing:

“And today, we will have the agriculture bill, the bill that covers the Department of Agriculture, on the floor, so that we can address the farmers’ safety net. They are expecting, and not receiving, what the President promised when he did his, shall we say, misinformed trade policies. They also have subsidies and other needs as they plan for the growing season. And food safety inspections, food stamps, all the rest, being held up by the President’s petulance.

"Again, today we’ll do--this week we’ll vote on Transportation and HUD to prevent families from being evicted from their homes. There’s so much that HUD has to do with housing in our country that is forestalled by the President’s obstinance. And then we will do Interior Department legislation on Friday. …

“And so, he’s endangering the safety of our food supply, the security of our airlines, vulnerable families, nutrition assistance, tax refunds and the paycheck of 800,000 innocent families. What did they do to deserve this?”

Democrats Contradict Pelosi and Schumer, Say Border Barrier Would Be ‘Useful’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are adamant that a wall on the border would be “ineffective,” but several Democrats recently indicated that fencing along the border would be useful, Breitbart reports:

“If we have a partial wall, if we have fencing, if we have technology used to keep our border safe, all of that is fine,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said on CNN.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) also backed a barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“Some fencing is useful, some barriers are useful,” Merkley said. “There’s a lot of surveillance technology. I’ve been to some cities on the border that have triple fencing and have more personnel and have the technology to see the people moving in the middle of the night.”

Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY)–the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee–said they would support fencing and barriers where necessary along the border.

Nadler said he would “maybe” support a fence “in some places,” but “not a 700-mile fence. Swalwell said, “I agree. This is a lot of money. Money is not the issue here. I think it’s the values of do we--- are we a country that puts a wall between ourself and an allied nation or do we use smart security measures, increase Border Patrol agents, increase enforcement of overstay or visas, increase use of technology, and yes, fencing where there are vulnerabilities.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was asked during a recent appearance on CNN, “You say you are willing to have border security. Hakeem Jeffries, who will be the number 5 in the House, yesterday told me that means enhanced fencing. He also won’t rule out perhaps more money for border security, so is there -- Look, if an extraterrestrial came to earth right now without knowing anything and tried to solve this problem, he might say, ‘Well, why not do $1.6 billion and call it a fence and not a border wall?’ Would Democrats allow and pay for some new fencing?

Durbin said, “Well, I can tell you, we’ve had fencing in the past. I’m sure we will in the future. It won’t be a big long, beautiful 2,000-mile wall.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) says Democrats support a barrier including a fence. “Democrats have repeatedly said that we will support border security, we will support all of its elements including fences,” Garamendi said.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), the Vice Chair of the Democrat conference, says that the border would benefit from additional barriers. “You know, I think there are parts of the border that would benefit from repairing fencing and other barricades that already exist there,” she told MSNB

Trump: High-Skilled Immigrants Could Get Path to Citizenship

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday morning that high-skilled immigrants currently in the United States could see major changes to their visa program soon, including a possible path to citizenship.

"H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship.

We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.," Trump tweeted.

The H-1B is an employment visa for high-skilled foreign workers, specifically for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or higher. If obtained, it allows a person to remain in the country for an initial three years, with an option to extent to up to six years. The total number of H-1B visas issued per year is officially capped at 85,000 per year, although as the Washington Free Beacon has previously reported, the actual number is substantially higher.

H-1B holders are currently eligible to apply for and receive lawful permanent resident status, a.k.a. a green card. As such, given that green card holders are eligible for naturalization, H-1B recipients are already able to obtain citizenship—it is unclear if Trump intends to shorten this path.

Although it is not clear what changes Trump has in mind, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to introduce a number of changes to the program, Axios reported. Those will likely include revoking the Obama-era rule which gave work permits for the usually low-skilled spouses of H-1B holders (who are themselves on an H-4 visa), and giving enhanced visa preferences to graduate students.

The Trump administration in general has been thus far less than friendly to H-1B holders, according to Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. This is in no small part because of fears of H-1Bs being used by unscrupulous employers to replace native-born, high-skill workers with immigrants who command a lower wage. For example, an MPI report found that the top twenty H-1B using firms paid immigrant employees $30,000 less on average than their native-born counterparts.

At the same time, the administration has been broadly supportive of a shift to a more skills-based immigration system. The White House has backed the RAISE Act, Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and David Perdue's (R., Ga.) proposal to create a points-based, skills-focused immigration system in place of the current, family-preference-emphasized one.

More From Politico - Food stamps for millions of Americans become pawn in shutdown fight

As the partial government shutdown extends into its third week, the Department of Agriculture won't say how long it can keep paying out food stamp benefits for the nearly 39 million people who depend on the program each month.

The White House and House Democrats, locked in a bitter political struggle over border wall funding, have started raising alarm that the food stamp program, one of the most significant forms of aid for low-income Americans, could run out of funds in coming weeks if Congress doesn’t act — an apparent attempt by both sides to increase pressure on Congress to end the shutdown.

Senior administration officials said last week they think the program has enough money for January, but not enough to cover all benefits in February, a scenario that could lead to a major cutback in benefits for millions of recipients, The Washington Post reported on Friday. The following day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office blasted out the story to reporters.

But the Trump administration may, in fact, have more leeway to use reserve funds to keep food stamps afloat if Congress and President Donald Trump don't reach an agreement to break the impasse, which has shuttered nine of 15 federal departments, including the Department of Agriculture, for 17 days.

The USDA, which administers the food stamp program, has declined to answer questions about its reserves and would not provide an estimate of when the program would run out of funding.

"It creates a lot of confusion for people,” said Russell Sykes, director of employment and economic well-being at the American Public Human Services Association, a nonprofit that represents state agencies that run SNAP at the state level. "We can never really get a good handle on reserves. They're very tight-lipped about it."

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, still known as food stamps to many, is in a peculiar budgetary category. It’s a mandatory entitlement program that continues on autopilot for people who meet income and eligibility requirements, but the funds are appropriated by Congress. Other major mandatory entitlement programs, like Social Security, are automatically funded.

In the past, this largely has been viewed as a technicality, and the money needed to keep SNAP running usually has been waived through without fanfare. Congress has never let funding for SNAP run out to the point where the program defaulted on benefits.

In 2015, the government came close to not having money to cover benefits, but Congress came through with the funds at the 11th hour, as the fiscal year drew to a close.

This time around, a continuing resolution that expired on Dec. 21 gave SNAP the funds needed to continue paying benefits this month without any issue. The question now is how long the government can continue meeting its obligation to pay out benefits if Congress doesn’t step in with new funding.

In September, the last month for which data was available, the program cost about $4.7 billion per month.

In past years, Congress gave USDA a $3 billion reserve fund each year for SNAP, in part to help with shutdown situations, with an expiration at the end of each calendar year.

In the omnibus spending package passed early last year, Congress gave USDA $3 billion for the reserve fund and provided a longer leash. The funds were made available until the end of 2019, "for use only in such amounts and at such times as may become necessary to carry out program operations."

Some experts believe USDA's food stamp cushion could be closer to $6 billion, which would cover February,This article was sourced from Washington Free Beacon

This article was sourced from CNSNews

This article was sourced from CNSNews

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