On December 22, 2018, President Trump initiated a partial government shutdown after Democrats refused to spend $5.7 billion on a border wall. This is the second government shutdown in 2018, and the longest overall shutdown in American history. Approximately 420,000 federal employees are currently working without pay, while the rest have been furloughed until further notice.
Questionable Campaign Promises
The president isn’t backing down from fulfilling his most controversial campaign promise. In 2016, the president raised quite a few eyebrows when he claimed that Mexico would “be happy” to pay for a wall spanning the southern border of the United States. However, at this point, even if President Trump declares a state of emergency, he likely won’t secure the exorbitant funding he needs to build the 100-mile barrier across the Texas underbelly.
Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans are currently at a standstill. Though the nation is holding its breath, President Trump has not been quiet about his stormy professional relationships with certain Democratic leaders, specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Well, I hope that Speaker Pelosi can come along and realize what everybody knows, no matter who it is, they know that walls work and we need walls. And whether it is personal or not, it is not personal for me. She's being controlled by the radical left which is a problem."
Despite the president’s passionate appeals, there are certain facts congress can’t ignore: border apprehensions have decreased dramatically in the last 10 years, and the State Department claims there is no evidence of terrorists crossing the border. Likewise, most experts verify that a wall won’t stop drug trafficking into the United States.
Addressing the Nation
During a televised address on January 19, 2019, President Trump discussed border security, the “humanitarian and national security” crisis at the U.S. Mexico border, and the repercussions of the government shutdown. In return for his wall, President Trump announced that he was willing to support a 3-year extension of protections for the 700,000 immigrants who were protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This compromise would also extend protections for 300,000 recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. However, Democrats didn’t hesitate to dismiss this olive branch.
In response to the President’s speech, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made the following statement: “It was the president who singlehandedly took away DACA and TOS protections in the first place. Offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise, but more hostage taking.”
Since this speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked President Trump from delivering a State of the Union address in the House Chamber so long as the government remains partially shut down. While the tit-for-tat between President Trump and House Speaker Pelosi continues, Democratic leaders are evaluating counteroffers that would provide funding for border security without funding the wall.
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