U.S. Government Greets Partial Shutdown for the Holidays

The U.S. slides into Christmas with a partial government shutdown, which began at just after midnight on Saturday morning, December 22, and may continue into the New Year. The partial shutdown is a result of the inability of representatives in Congress to reach an agreement with each other and with Donald Trump regarding his demands to fund a border wall. By Saturday, many House and Senate lawmakers had left town for the holidays, so a new vote is not likely in the near future. Fingers are pointing on both sides as to who is to blame for the partial shutdown.

Trump had said the previous week, on December 11, when a shutdown seemed a little less likely, that he would “own” a shutdown if it occurred. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck (speaking to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer). … I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

On December 19, the Senate passed a bill that seemed amenable to Trump and that looked as if it would prevent a shutdown, at least through February. In an apparent reversal on December 20, however, Trump said he wouldn’t sign the bill, after all, and that he won’t sign any bill that doesn’t include his required $5 billion to fund his border wall.

The House was then set to pass a spending deal with Trump’s required $5 billion for the border wall, but without Senate Democrats’ votes, the bill won’t pass in the Senate. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate would not take more votes until all sides could agree on a deal.

“When those negotiations produce a solution that is acceptable to all of those parties,” said McConnell, “It will receive a vote here on the Senate floor.”

On Friday, December 21, after previously declaring that he would “own” a shutdown, Trump did a turnaround tweet: “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”

In a video posted to Twitter, Trump said, “We’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes. Call it a Democrat shutdown, call it whatever you want, but we need their help to get this approved.”

Though Trump blames the current partial shutdown on the Democrats, Senate Democrats did support the bill that passed on December 19, and that appeared to have Trump’s support, until he flip-flopped.

As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi points out, “Democrats are for real border security solutions. Not for wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on an immoral, ineffective & expensive wall.”

Though government shutdowns have happened under other administrations, they are not common, especially under an administration in which one party controls all three branches. This, however, is the third shutdown in less than a year.

Partial government shutdown to continue through Christmas | Fox News [2018-12-24]

Day one of partial federal shutdown: Things go ‘from bad to worse’ |
PBS News Hour [2018-12-22]

Government Shutdown: Fanning the Blame

Following the three-day government shutdown over the past weekend, fingers have been pointing in all directions. The House spending bill that would have extended the shutdown deadline to February 16 included measures that addressed various immigration issues, including funding for the Mexican border wall that was a cornerstone of the Trump Campaign. The bill did not, however, address the legal status of those who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), so most Democrats voted against it. Congress did not have enough votes to pass the funding bill, and this resulted in the government shutdown.

On Monday, Democrats and Republicans reached a temporary agreement that President Trump signed. The agreement would restore funding for the federal government until February 8. In the meantime, the daunting task of coming to a bipartisan solution for DACA recipients and border security, as well as for a longer-term agreement government spending, faces Congress.

Insults and blame for the continued lack of a permanent solution continue to fly across the news and social media outlets.

“This is the behavior of obstructionist losers…” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated, referring to the Democrats who voted against the spending bill.

“A failure  of gargantuan proportions on the part of the Democrats” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“It would be hard to figure out who is responsible for the shutdown, unless someone involved said, ‘our country needs a good shutdown.’ Then, it would be pretty easy,” tweeted Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, and former Democratic National Committee Chair).

Some of the responses to the government shutdown approached hyperbole in their attempts to vilify the Democrats who voted against the spending bill. The Trump Campaign, for example, issued the following ad over the weekend, on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

In its support of Trump’s border wall, the ad seems to blur the distinction between DACA recipients and illegal immigrants who are criminals. It suggests that “Democrats who stand in our way (of building the wall, and, presumably, voting against the GOP spending bill) will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

New Trump Campaign Ad Blames Democrats for Murders Committed by Illegal Immigrants  |  Wochit Politics [2018-01-20]

Some Democrats see Monday’s stopgap agreement as capitulation by their fellow Democrats who voted in favor of it, since it doesn’t promise or include definite support for DACA. The immigration issue could also further divide the GOP within the party, since some Republicans want more extreme immigration reform than what most Republicans currently support.

Will today’s vote to end the government shutdown lead to even more division within parties? Can lawmakers put aside their differences, or at least refrain from tweeting them in the form of blame and insults, long enough to draft a bipartisan spending agreement that will avert another government shutdown?

Shields and Brooks on government shutdown blame, Trump’s first year |  PBS News Hour [2018-01-19] 

Gorka: Americans Understand Shutdown Isn’t Trump’s Fault | Fox News [2018-01-21]