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Shutdown pressure builds

Shutdown pressure on President Donald Trump mounted Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on him to delay his State of the Union address and his own economists acknowledged the prolonged standoff was having a greater economic drag than previously thought.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi cited security concerns, noting that both Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are affected by the partial government shutdown, now it its fourth week. She added that unless the government reopens this week, they should find another date or Trump should deliver the address in writing.

The White House did not immediately respond to the high-stakes move on the 26th day of the shutdown, as Trump and Democrats are at an impasse over Trump's demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Democrats say they will discuss border security once the government has reopened, but Pelosi is refusing money for the wall they view as ineffective and immoral.

With no breakthrough in sight, the White House planned further meetings with rank-and-file lawmakers Wednesday, though few saw those sessions as likely to budge either side. Administration officials sought to project confidence, even as Trump's economists indicated the shutdown was having a greater impact than previously predicted.

In a call with reporters, White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett said Tuesday the shutdown is slowing economic growth more than predicted.

An economic shift could rattle Trump, who has tied his political fortunes to the stock market and has repeatedly stressed economic gains as evidence that his tax-cut package and deregulation efforts are succeeding. Economic optimism had already cooled somewhat as Trump's trade fight with China shook the markets.

Hassett said on the call that the White House is doubling its estimate of the strain on the economy of the shutdown, and now calculates that it is slowing growth by about 0.1 percentage points a week.

With the shutdown in its fourth week, that suggests the economy has lost nearly a half-percentage point of growth so far, though some of that occurred at the end of last year and some in the first quarter this year. Hassett said the economy should get a boost when the government re-opens.



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