The current government shutdown is nothing new. The unanswered question is –What will the Democrats and Republicans do– For while the Government plays Americans pay.
As 2018 drew to a close, America, or better put, the American people, found themselves looking at 2019 from a partially closed or shutdown perspective, wondering about the future of their great nation. Although not alluded to, or even briefly mentioned, this is the third government shutdown, in the less than two years since Donald Trump assumed presidency. The barrage of media coverage regarding resignations, social media missteps, Russia probes, indictments, and the countless shenanigans, all served to lull everyone into an mnemonic aura– into a strange sense of forgetfulness that it was nothing new—just plain old déjà vu. Wake up America—you started 2018, with a government shutdown.
Beginning January 20 to January 23, 2018 the issues of immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) funding was contentious, as the Democrats contended that the funding be included in the budget. Senate Republicans refused to include the issue, insisting that the deadline for both DACA and immigration was not until mid-March. A stop-gap that would fund the government for four weeks passed the House of Representatives, and Republican Mitch McConnell proposed a three-week stop-gap. The government reopened on Tuesday, January 23.
Next came the second government shutdown on February 9, 2018, an aftermath of the January shutdown, but it did not lead to any workers being furloughed, as it was satisfactorily resolved overnight.
The third shutdown of 2018 (including the February 2018 funding lapse related to the January 2018 shutdown) commenced on Saturday, December 22nd with a House-passed continuing resolution to fund the United States Government awaiting a full floor vote in the Senate.
The point of contention or the crux of the matter was the inclusion of $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall that was a component of a Trump campaign promise. Throughout his campaign and as recently as November, the President has repeatedly stated that Mexico would pay for his border wall. He further stated that it would cost about $33 billion. Specifically, the administration was looking for $18 billion for the physical wall, $5.7 billion for technology, $1 billion for road construction and maintenance, and $8.5 billion for staff. However, a few days ago, Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in essence acknowledged that Mexico would not in fact be paying for the border wall, which is now reported to increase in cost as much as an additional $40 billion dollars.
To seemingly make matters worse, Trump was hedging on whether it is called a “wall” or “fence” and failing to acknowledge that there really is a difference between the two things. Now at this third shutdown, the President is insisting on $5 billion to reach a budget deal, but there have been leaks that the administration would accept $1.6 billion, while Senate Democrats have lowered the amount, they were willing to fund to $1.3 billion.
Trump vehemently maintains that the wall is needed to secure the US southern border with Mexico and stem irregular immigration. There is no backing down on the part of the administration, and the shutdown, now in its twentieth day, is currently the second longest in
U. S history, and if no solution is reached by tomorrow, Saturday January 12, 2019, it will be the longest gap in government funding in U.S. history.
Recently Trump tweeted that most of those affected by the shutdown are Democrats, a fact which the Democrats should know. However, the sad reality that Republicans and Democrats appear not to know and understand is that the impact of a shutdown is bipartisan.
On a much more provocative note, the president has also warned that he may go the route of utilizing a rarely-used option, by declaring a national emergency to build his border wall without congressional approval. Strangely enough, while such a thought may be in his mind, additionally the power to effect such a measure also lies in his hands.
This shutdown, viewed in its entirety, is further adding to Donald Trump’s growing list of firsts. Putting aside the fact that the shutdown may soon be the longest in U.S. history, and the invoking of emergency powers may evoke harsh criticism, of the 58 times that presidents have declared emergencies since Congress reformed emergency-powers laws in 1976, none has involved funding a policy goal after failing to win congressional approval.
Is there a likely end in sight, while endeavouring to ascertain who’s wrong and who’s right? According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on January 8, an increasing number of Americans blame the president for the shutdown that will cut off paychecks to federal workers this week, although Republicans mostly support his refusal to approve a budget without taxpayer dollars for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. President Trump has said there is a national security crisis at the border.
As the shutdown drags on, there is mounting air travel fears, as airport security and air traffic controllers currently working without pay warned that security and safety could be compromised should the shutdown continue beyond today, Friday January 11, the date and day when some workers will miss their first pay cheques.
On a side note, the shutdown, while still playing out in the main arena, has taken on a life of its own—the tough negotiation prowess of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, pitted against the inability to be pinned down of Donald Trump, President of the United States.
Quo vadis? Where are both sides now? The shutdown has drawn national attention — and the spotlight has brightened since the start of the new year. Along with that, the rhetoric has become increasingly heated. On account of all of that, a deal that might have worked to reopen the government on, say, December 29, 2018, would no longer be workable or at least applicable today.
The ultimate question however remains– Will there be a wall or a political fall? How long can government workers stay without receiving any pay? If the truth is to be told whether bought or basically sold, what lies behind this impasse is clear to see,– an ongoing game of cat and mouse now that the Democrats have regained the House.
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