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U.S. Agencies Reopen as Trump Capitulates to Pelosi in Shutdown Fight

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  • U.S. Agencies Reopen as Trump Capitulates to Pelosi in Shutdown Fight

Federal agencies affected by the 35-day partial shutdown began reopening after President Donald Trump signed a stopgap funding measure without the border wall funds he had demanded, completing his capitulation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The shutdown officially ended with Trump’s signature and the White House had instructed departments and agencies earlier in the day to begin preparations to resume normal operations. In some cases, that may take days. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington won’t be open to visitors until Tuesday.

The White House announced on Friday night that Trump had signed the measure.

“The government is now open,” Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget said on Twitter.

His office made restoring pay and benefits to government workers a priority, but it’s not clear how quickly back pay will be distributed. “You should reopen offices in a prompt and orderly manner,” Vought said in a memorandum to department and agency heads that was included in his tweet.

The reprieve from the budget impasse may be short lived. The spending bill Trump signed only runs through Feb. 15, giving lawmakers three weeks to work out border security legislation that satisfies both parties on Capitol Hill as well as the White House. Trump expressed optimism the two sides would reach a deal, but reiterated earlier threats that he could bypass Congress and fund construction of the wall by declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 again or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said.

And in a tweet on Friday night he said, “I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!”

The bill reflects an agreement forged hastily on Friday as the shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, began to disrupt air travel. That morning, LaGuardia Airport in New York was briefly closed because of a shortage of air traffic controllers, exacerbating flight delays across the country.

Negotiations in the Senate restarted Thursday after the chamber rejected rival plans to reopen plans from Trump and Democrats to fund the government. Trump had refused to end the impasse until he received $5.7 billion for a border wall and Democrats had refused to negotiate with him on wall funding as long as the standoff continued. Ultimately, Trump agreed to reopen the government in exchange for three weeks of bipartisan negotiations on border security.

About 800,000 federal employees were furloughed or working without pay, and many of them missed their second paycheck on Friday.

The shutdown “never should have happened,” Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on the Senate floor before the vote. “We cannot mess with people’s lives this way.”

One of the many casualties of the dispute was Trump’s State of the Union address, which had been scheduled for Jan. 29. Pelosi demanded earlier this week that it be postponed until the government reopened and Trump agreed. After the agreement was reached Friday, Pelosi said she would discuss a “mutually agreeable date” after the government reopened.

Federal departments and agencies are gearing up to restart functions that were halted during the shutdown and it will take time for some to return to full speed.

Reports on gross domestic product, consumer spending, housing and trade may start trickling in, as the Commerce Department restarts the process of collecting, analyzing and releasing the figures over the next month or so, based on what happened following previous shutdowns. A similar flow of data can be expected from the Agriculture and Treasury departments, as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

At the Interior Department, which oversees grazing, drilling and recreational activity on the nation’s vast public lands, many functions can be swiftly resumed, said spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort, though employees will spend some time working through backlogs of work that accumulated during the shutdown. Among the suspended work that could be revived quickly: Consideration of endangered species and reviews of renewable power projects.

At Interior — and likely at many other federal agencies — workers may be able to get back to “normal operations” in a matter of hours or it might take days depending on the nature of their jobs, Vander Voort said.

The Internal Revenue Service, which will begin the tax filing season on Monday, has been struggling to get furloughed workers back this week, creating concern that employees could be slow to return to even after the shutdown. More than half the 26,000 workers who were recalled to this week in the Wage and Investment Division didn’t show up, and it’s unclear whether staffing will fully rebound once the government reopens.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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