The Latest: Many IRS employees not returning to work
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the partial government shutdown (all times local):
Fewer than half the furloughed IRS employees recalled during the shutdown to handle tax returns and taxpayers’ questions and send out refunds, without pay, reported for work as of Tuesday, according to congressional and government aides.
About 30 percent of the 26,000 recalled workers have sought permission under their union contract to be absent from work, IRS officials told House committee staff in a briefing Thursday. The IRS employees’ union contract allows them to be absent from work if they experience hardship during a shutdown.
The official start of the tax filing season comes Monday. The Trump administration has promised that taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time, and it reversed the policies of earlier presidents and made the money available to pay hundreds of hundreds of billions in refunds on time. The administration planned to eventually send about 46,000 furloughed IRS employees back to work. That’s nearly 60 percent of the IRS workforce.
Of the 26,000 employees recalled, about 12,000 have come to work, the IRS officials said. Around 5,000 have claimed the hardship exception under the union contract and another 9,000 couldn’t be reached by IRS managers.
—By Marcy Gordon
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the administration wants to negotiate a government shutdown deal but is not saying how much President Donald Trump wants as a “down payment” on his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Sanders spoke to reporters at the White House on Friday, a day after the Senate voted down competing Democratic and Republican plans for ending the partial government shutdown. The shutdown is in its 35th day.
Trump on Thursday suggested he would support a deal with a “down payment” on a wall along the border. Sanders would not detail how much Trump is looking for.
Sanders says the Trump administration has made clear what it wants for border security, adding “we are going to work to get there one way or another.”
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called a wall immoral. Other Democrats have said they consider a wall an ineffective, wasteful monument to a Trump campaign promise.
The Senate has voted down competing Democratic and Republican plans for ending the 35-day partial government shutdown on Thursday. But the setbacks prompted a burst of bipartisan talks aimed at temporarily halting the longest-ever closure of federal agencies and the damage it’s inflicting around the country.
In the first serious exchange in weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly called Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to his office to explore solving the stalemate. Senators from both sides floated a plan to reopen agencies for three weeks and pay hundreds of thousands of federal workers while bargainers hunt for a deal.
At the White House, President Donald Trump told reporters he’d support “a reasonable agreement.” He suggested he’d also want a “prorated down payment” for his long-sought border wall with Mexico.