President Donald Trump is inviting congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday during the 12th day of the partial government shutdown, which has no end in sight just one day before a majority party switch in Washington. Federal funding ran out at midnight on Friday, December 21, 2018, leading to 800,000 government employees being affected by the standoff between the commander in chief and Congress.
Through the Christmas holiday, President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to at least $5 billion in wall funding to enhance security at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying in the Oval Office to reporters, “I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open…It’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they like to call it…I’ll call it whatever they want…but it’s all the same thing, it’s a barrier.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) adjourned the upper chamber on December 21 without deliberating a $5.7 billion funding package for the southern border wall from majority Republicans in the House that passed late the night before with a 217-185 vote. There is still no scheduled vote to reopen the entirety of the U.S. government based on the legislation as of yet.
After the House passed the short-term spending measure, Senator McConnell relayed to the White House that the votes – even to pass the bill with a simple, 51-member majority – were not there. Several senators put out statements confirming their opposition, including Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a fierce Trump opponent, saying he would resist wall money without broader immigration reforms, leaving the procedural dead on arrival.
On Monday, however, Trump said that he was “ready to go” to make a deal to reopen the government. “A lot of people are looking to get their paycheck, but the wall is a big part of border security,” he told Fox News.
Reportedly, the president will now be willing to accept funding figures for the border wall that are somewhere between the $5 billion he has requested, and the $1.6 billion congressional Democrats are willing to pass. However, the liberal party has demanded that those dollars not be dedicated to any portion of President Trump’s “immoral, ineffective, and expensive” wall.
Only a week ago, Trump insisted during an Oval Office meeting that he would take ownership of a partial government shutdown over the U.S.-Mexico border wall. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down,” he said. Though, it seems that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) has now been cloaked with the responsibility – judging by both her and the president’s comments.
“One thing has now been proven. The Democrats do not care about Open Borders and all of the crime and drugs that Open Borders bring!” Trump tweeted less than 24 hours ago. “Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?” the president added, prodding speaker-to-be Pelosi.
Responding to calls for her to come back from vacationing in Hawaii to Washington to make a deal, Pelosi took to Twitter to say:
“@realDonaldTrump has given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly & quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible #TrumpShutdown – just the first sign of things to come in our new Democratic Majority committed to working #ForThePeople.”
If the government shutdown continues, President Trump’s push for money to construct his campaign promise of a southern border wall “and have Mexico pay for it” could end up being a “read my lips” moment that many attribute to President George H. W. Bush‘s loss in the 1992 General Election to President Bill Clinton.
President Trump, however, seems to have confidence in his plan, consistently reiterating that shutting the government down is “worth” border security, energizing his most ardent supporters. He has used recent developments in a story from California where a Stanislaus County police officer was shot and killed by a man who was in the country illegally to bolster his argument.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also weighed in recently on the situation.
“[Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer [D-NY] voted for border security in 2006, he voted for it again…in 2011. It seems like Democrats really like border security when there’s a Democrat in office and don’t like it when Donald Trump is in office,” he explained to the “Fox & Friends” morning show last week.
The chief of staff also said that during a meeting last week with the the president, Senate minority leader, Vice President Mike Pence, and others, a deal may have been had after some ground was gained over funding discrepancies. However, “the more we’re hearing,” Mulvaney added, “Nancy Pelosi is preventing that from happening.”
In terms of what the president could sign to reopen the government, Trump could trade a proposed deal for DREAMers – those protected under the Obama-era Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act – to get the funding needed for the border wall. He could also negotiate for more favorable terms in the eyes of the incoming majority party on funding, accepting somewhere between the $5.7 billion passed by the House and the $1.6 billion that has been offered by the liberal caucus, while looking into other departments for alternative funding options.
Being somewhat unpredictable as to what he has signed at the Resolute desk in the past, President Trump, who reluctantly placed his signature on the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill to advert another government shutdown last year, could stick to what he said in early 2018 in a very similar situation, which was “never again.”