agriculture

Democrats propose legal status for undocumented immigrant farmworkers
Legislation would protect workers from deportation, ease labor shortages, proponents say

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the legislation “would ensure that hardworking immigrants don’t live in fear and that California’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to succeed.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two California Democrats filed legislation Thursday that would give undocumented immigrant farmworkers and their families a path to legal resident status and possibly U.S. citizenship.

The legislation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Zoe Lofgren is designed to ease agricultural worker shortages and protect undocumented workers already in the United States from deportation. The bills come as the nation grapples with an extended partial government shutdown fueled by an impasse between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall and broader differences over immigration policies.

Trump again endorses immigration changes for seasonal migrant farm workers
‘You need people to help you,’ he says. ‘I’m not going to rule that out’

Farmland is watered by a large irrigation sprinkler in the desert near Palmdale, California, in May. President Donald Trump wants changes to make it easier for seasonal migrant farm workers to enter the country. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For the third time this week, President Donald Trump on Friday signaled support for immigration policy changes that would make it easier for seasonal farm workers to enter the United States.

Trump pleaded in a Friday morning tweet for someone to inform Speaker Nancy Pelosi that “her ‘big donors’ in wine country that people working on farms (grapes) will have easy access in!”

Pence signals little progress with China since Trump-Xi agreement
U.S. ‘remains hopeful’ Chinese officials will engage in serious talks

Vice President Mike Pence walks through Statuary Hall on his way to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday signaled that the Trump administration has made little progress in trade talks with China, even after what the White House portrayed as a breakthrough late last year.

Pence painted a picture of a new lull in U.S.-China trade talks even after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Dec. 1 over local steaks in Argentina to call a truce in what had been a tense tariff war that threatened to slow the global economy.

Dug-in Trump to Dems: ‘Only a wall will work’ as shutdown enters 25th day
President contends polls shifting toward him, but one shows he didn’t change any minds with address

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive at the Capitol to attend a Senate Republican policy luncheon last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A day after appearing to downplay the stature of his proposed southern border wall, President Donald Trump sent a message to congressional Democratic leaders: “Only a wall will work” as a partial government shutdown over his demands enters its 25th day.

Trump sent mixed messages about his proposed border wall during a Monday speech to an agriculture conference in New Orleans. After first saying he would not “back down” on his wall demands, he appeared to downplay the proposal among his full collection of 2016 campaign promises.

States scramble to get February food stamps out amid shutdown

The lapse in funding for the Agriculture Department due to the shutdown is complicating people getting their food stamp benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State and county workers spent the weekend gathering information needed to make sure 38 million low-income people receive their February food stamp benefits early despite a partial federal government shutdown.

The Agriculture Department prompted the flurry of activity when it announced last week that it would tap the remaining budget authority in an expired continuing resolution to provide states $4.8 billion to cover February benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Trump’s snow day Twitter rant spills into Monday with attacks on Dems
President also mocks report of FBI probe into whether he worked for Russia

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One from the White House on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a snowy Sunday of Twitter threats and jabs, President Donald Trump on Monday morning fired off more posts blaming Democrats for the now-record partial government shutdown and mocking a report the FBI opened an investigation over concerns he was working for Russia.

During a mid-December Oval Office meeting that devolved into a bickering match, the president told Democratic leaders he would “take the mantle” of any partial shutdown. With nine Cabinet agencies and other offices now shuttered for more than three weeks, Trump on Monday wrote that “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Trump cuts off federal funds to California to fight ‘Forrest fires’
‘Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely,’ president tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with California state leaders on Wednesday, tweeting he has cut off FEMA funds to the state over his view it mismanages the money in fighting forest fires. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered FEMA to withhold funds from California’s state government until officials there “get their act together” fighting forest fires. But he tweeted he thinks that is “unlikely.”

The president long has criticized California state officials, sometimes with dubious claims, over wildfires there and their steps to prevent and nix them. But stopping the flow of federal funds is an escalation of the feud, and one that might raise the ire of lawmakers — even the sizable House GOP delegation from the Golden State.

USDA Races to Use Budget Authority for Food Stamp Benefits in Shutdown
Announcement comes just before Trump’s television address

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Tuesday evening that food stamp benefits will be covered in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration said it will cover food stamp benefits in February using its authority under a provision of an expired continuing resolution that allows it to obligate federal funds within 30 days of expiration.

That move to use the stopgap measure that expired Dec. 21 would give USDA the $4.8 billion it would need to provide funding if the partial government shutdown continues into next month. This is the first time the department has used the method because of a government shutdown.

Dick Durbin says he’s running for Senate re-election in 2020, unofficially
Minority whip signaled he plans to seek a fifth term representing Illinois

Sen. Richard J. Durbin is planning a re-election bid, at least informally. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said Thursday that he intends to run for re-election in 2020.

The Democrat from Illinois said he would be seeking a fifth term when asked during a CNN interview.

Divided government will pose an obstacle to lawmaking in 2019
Congress was most dysfunctional from 2011 to 2014 when control of House and Senate was split

The partial government shutdown is already casting a dark shadow for prospects of what Congress might accomplish in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Washington tends to work best when one party controls both Congress and the White House. It’s most gridlocked, usually, when control of Congress is split.

The Congress of the past two years demonstrated the first principle. By any honest measure, President Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate got a lot done in 2017 and 2018.