Tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. EST, President Donald Trump will address the nation as the partial government shutdown affecting at least 800,000 federal workers as now been lingering on through 17 days. Federal funding ran out on Friday, December 21, closing nine departments within the U.S. government amid the Democrats regaining the majority in the House of Representatives, continuing the standoff between the commander in chief and Congress.
President Trump will also be traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border later this week to view the beginning of construction on part of the southern border wall as he seeks to highlight border security and push Democrats towards funding for the wall. Nevertheless, in his first Oval Office address to the nation, the president said hours ago on Twitter, “I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.”
Legislation forwarded on the opening day of the 116th Congress from Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA-14), included funding for the closed departments through September 30, with another measure keeping the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) open until February 8 as contention still surrounds the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and other immigration policies stemming from the Trump Administration. The package includes $1.3 billion for border security, a figure far less than the $5.7 billion Trump has requested, and will only be used to improve existing and build new border fencing, not build the wall.
Senate Republicans, however, have not deliberated the measure.
Recently, Trump said that his request for $5.7 billion in funding will help construct 234 miles of wall, with an additional $7 billion requested by the White House for additional immigration judges, border agents, medical supplies, and detention facilities. Depending on what occurs in the next few days in Washington, the commander in chief also said he may look to declare “a national emergency” to secure funding for the southern border wall.
During a White House press conference on Friday afternoon in the Rose Garden, President Trump said to reporters that he told Democratic congressional leaders in a meeting that he would keep the government partially closed for “months, or even years,” or “as long as it takes” to get the funding necessary to construct his campaign promise of a southern border wall to stave off illegal immigration.
Nevertheless, over the weekend, the president moved to call for a steel wall, rather than a concrete barrier, at the southern border.
“They don’t like concrete, so we’ll give them steel,” Trump told reporters over the weekend, alluding to a possible concession to Democrats.
As Trump could possibly break the record for the longest government shutdown – set by then-President Bill Clinton, from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996, at 21 days – he must begin to contend with waning support for the closure as more and more Americans feel the brunt of a closed federal government. With Democrats also looking to block any and all legislation that does not re-open the federal government, gridlock in Washington could reach new heights.