By Jennie Kim ’20
Another government shutdown has occurred during the Trump administration. This time it is about the funding for the border wall along Mexico. The shutdown officially began overnight on December 22 and has continued into the new year. The shutdown is a result of Congress refusing to meet Trump’s demand for $5.6 billion in taxpayer money to fund his border wall.
On December 11, the newly re-elected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss border security. Towards the ends of the meeting, Trump said, “And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shutdown the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country.”
On December 22, Trump rejected a bipartisan spending deal because it lacked the amount he demanded for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. President Trump has also made false claims that parts of the border wall are already under construction, which is simply not true. He has also claimed that “many of those people agree with what I’m doing.” However, these federal workers may disagree, and the majority of the American population disapprove of the wall. In a new poll reported by the Washington Times, 43 percent of Americans support the wall while 54 percent oppose the wall. The White House insisted that Trump will let the government be shut down for as long as it takes to get the funding he needs for his border wall.
Through this government shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been negatively impacted. About 380,000 federal workers have been furloughed without pay. This means that they cannot go to work until the government reopens. The rest are required to go to work without pay if their job is essential. This has posed a serious problem because many federal workers are reliant on federal money. Some are afraid that they will be evicted from their homes if they cannot pay their rent. Many of them cannot pay their bills because the government is shut down.
As newly elected members of the House of Representatives were sworn in on January 3rd, Congress will be divided for the next two years; Democrats have taken over the House and the Senate will continue to be controlled by the Republicans. As Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as the Speaker of the House, her priority is to reopen the government as soon as possible through legislation.
White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp has said that if Democrats use their new power to file subpoenas and look into Trump’s financial and political dealings, they are going to hurt themselves in the long run. Regarding a possibility of impeachment of President Trump, Pelosi has said that the Democrats are not going to impeach Trump for a political reason, but that they are also not going to avoid impeachment for a political reason.
As the government continues to be shut down, there seems to be no solution in sight to the problems imposed on federal workers by the shutdown. Democrats and Republicans seem to be far from reaching an agreement in order to end the shutdown and no one knows how long it will last.
To date, the current government shutdown is the longest in the country’s history.
Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais