White House redefines who is essential to get parts of government moving again

White House redefines who is essential to get parts of government moving again
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[Ed. – Democrats don’t want to negotiate. They are banking on the perhaps-shortsighted possibility that the president will continue to take full blame for the shutdown.]

As the government shutdown stretches into its fourth week, the Trump administration is reinterpreting longstanding rules to open the federal government piece by piece, forcing thousands of workers to report to work without pay, many of them in sectors that could minimize damage to the president’s base.

Federal farm service offices will open to help farmers and ranchers. With tax season underway, the Internal Revenue Service is calling more than half of its 80,000 employees back to work. Thousands of furloughed safety inspectors have been told to report to airports and runways. And dozens of Interior Department employees will head to the country’s coastline to sell oil and gas leases.

“It’s time for the Democrats to negotiate,” Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who helped lead the effort to recall I.R.S. employees, recently said. “In the meantime, we will make this shutdown as painless as possible, consistent with the law.”

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