Last Friday, President Donald Trump threatened to keep part of the federal government closed indefinitely if the $5.6 billion needed for the wall at the U.S. southern border is not approved. In fact, he indicated that he was fine with the government shutdown lasting for “months or even years” and that he was even considering declaring a national emergency to build it without congressional approval if needed.
Trump and Democratic leaders met for a two-hour meeting in the White House Situation Room and left without negotiating a deal that would reopen government agencies that have currently been closed for over two weeks. Both parties have severely different views of the situation, and for the time being, it looks like negotiations will be at a standstill for the re-open of federal offices as well as the funding of the border wall.
While the president and his Republican supporters in the House think it was a productive meeting, Democrats thought the meeting was combative at best. In an effort to negotiate and work together to resolve the issues, President Trump indicated that he called for Vice President Mike Pence to head a “working group” to help negotiate with Democratic leaders over the weekend, although Democrats have indicated this “working group” Trump spoke of was never discussed. For the record, White House officials have confirmed the Saturday morning meeting with aides to House and Senate leaders.
“We told the president we needed the government open,” said Democratic leader Senator Chuck Schumer of NY. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.” Trump later confirmed the comment. “I did say that. Absolutely I said that,” the president said. “I don’t think it will, but I am prepared.”
Friday’s meeting was a valid attempt to get talks underway for the wall and gave us a preview of how the Democrats, who now have power over the House for the first time in the past eight years, will operate. The new political dynamics in Washington is definitely going to be a challenge for a Republican President who gets rare support from the Democrats.
Trump is not currently showing any indication that he intends to back down to the Democrats refusal to fund the wall, even with feedback from a few Republican senators who have indicated that they would like to see a vote to reopen government offices. This vote does not seem like a viable solution to the president at all, as he has mentioned that he will invoke his emergency powers to build the wall if funds do not get the approval he is looking for.
“I may do it,” Trump said. “But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. And it’s another way of doing it. But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot.”
~ Liberty Planet