In what will likely turn out to be little but a symbolic proposal, Democrats in the US House of Representatives manoeuvred to pass legislation to end a 13-day partial government shutdown.
Yesterday was the first day that the new members, elected on 6 November 2018, took their seats. In those midterm elections, Democrats took control in the House from the Republicans. The Republicans gained a slightly larger majority in the Senate.
With each side feeling they hold little of the ultimate power, it seems this government stalemate will take place for quite some time. After all, if the president doesn’t like it, it isn’t going to happen.
Trump adamant on Mexico border wall
The US Congress for 2019–20 officially took place in the midst of a semi-closed federal government. The shutdown affects around a quarter of government staff, or roughly 800,000 employees.
Granted, it is a significant move. But US President Donald Trump is after significant results, wanting to secure the US$5.6 billion needed to fulfil his 2016 electoral promise of building a 200-mile wall along the Mexico border.
It’s a task set to improve national, economic and employment security, which Trump will fight tooth and nail to complete. He has even said that he would be ‘proud’ to shut down the government for ‘a long time’ if deemed necessary to get the funding required for the border.
And we need only look at how Trump is handling the China trade situation to know he is a leader that will accept nothing less than what he’s after.
His fellow Republicans are aware of this. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claims any alternative proposal made will never proceed past the Senate. The Republican-controlled chamber will not push forward any legislation that Trump isn’t likely to sign.
But that didn’t stop the Democrats from trying…despite the heavy odds against them.
Democrats attempt to compromise with the president
True to form of the opposition, the Democrats do not entertain the nation-changing prospect of a Mexico border wall.
With Democratic lawmaker Nancy Pelosi being voted to take the reins as House speaker, she and her party endeavoured to compromise with Trump, offering a two-part Democratic package.
As RAW reports, the package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through to 8 February, providing US$1.3 billion (AU$1.9 billion) for border fencing, and a further US$300 million (AU$428 million) for other border security items.
The second part of the package includes funding for currently unfunded federal agencies through to 30 September. These include the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation and Commerce and Justice.
So in essence, they proposed further border funding for just over a month, but would not include any funding towards Trump’s border wall.
Needless to say, the government shutdown is yet to be revoked.
A tug of war over the wall
As RAW reports, both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders held discussion with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, which ultimately went nowhere. Further meetings are scheduled for Friday, which means the shutdown will probably continue for the rest of the week.
And likely even longer, for neither side is willing to budge.
Pelosi has recently told NBC that ‘There is no amount of persuasion he (Trump) can do to say to us, “We want you to do something that is not effective, that costs billions of dollars”’.
Trump retaliated on his preferred communication medium, Twitter, on Thursday:
‘The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election.
‘The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security — and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!’
Time will tell which side will concede. But it doesn’t look like Trump will back down.
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