Plaskett Plans Major Pushback Against Division of Emergency Recovrey Monies to Fund Trump Border Wall
As the partial federal government shutdown continues to negatively affect U.S. government employees, recipients of federal benefits, and participants in a myriad of programs, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett said this weekend the fight will continue against any attempt by President Donald Trump to divert recovery monies slated for the Virgin Islands to funding the border wall.
Plaskett and Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon of Puerto Rico will be introducing a joint letter to the Trump White House opposing any attempt to strip billions in unspent recovery monies from the budget of the Army Corps of Engineers. "We are opposed to this approach, without question. These funds were approved by Congress and The White House specifically for the recovery, and it is simply improper for the President to now siphon off the funding to the wall--a 5th century solution to a modern day challenge", Plaskett said Monday. Trump has toyed with declaring national emergency to fund the southern border wall which would allow him to tap the relief monies. The Army Corps has maintained a presence in the territory since the 2017 hurricanes, working on various initiatives from rooftop programs to shoreline cleanup and restoration.
The 24-day shutdown is the result of differences between Trump and Congressional Democrats over immigration control. Trump wants $5 billion to construct the southern border wall while Democrats are opposed to the idea. Plaskett warned that the impact of the continued government shutdown will worsen as not only federal employees are being affected, but recipients of programs such as food stamps, farmers seeking loans or businesses who rely on federal workers for continued success. The longer the shutdown goes, the deeper the effect.
She noted however, that federal emergency workers who continue to work in the Virgin Islands on the post-hurricane effort however are not affected as funding for the response and recovery is not impacted by the lapse in federal appropriations.
Plaskett said Trump must come to the realization that the southern border wall is not the solution to the immigration challenges we face. "The wall is an age-old solution. He must abandon this notion of holding the operations of the federal government hostage to secure funding for an inefficient solution. We must reopen the federal government while providing a meaningful response to the immigration and border security challenges we face." Our conversation with the White House will continue in opposition to the wall and in opposition to the continued shutdown of the government. President Trump cannot continue to hold American federal workers hostage to pressure the fulfillment of campaign rhetoric. Plaskett also said this weekend she has briefed Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on her efforts and the continued work of her congressional colleagues toward resolving the impasse with President Trump.
In a news conference a week ago, Plaskett identified programs and services that could be adversely impacted by the ongoing partial federal government shutdown. They include but are not limited to: the issuance of social security checks, taxpayer assistance, passport processing, park service operations, school lunch program and food stamp issuance, TSA operations at major airports, federal law enforcement operations, Coast Guard programs and initiatives, USDA programs and loan applications centers. Plaskett in a final statement said, "I want to hear from our residents about just how the shutdown is affecting their lives. Visit plaskett.house.gov and complete the survey. It is important that we know how the government shutdown is affecting all facets of the lives of our residents".