Trump: ‘I Would Be Foolish’ To End Shutdown

President Trump met with Democrat leaders on Wednesday, but there was no apparent progress in reopening the government. The meeting which also included Republican congressional leaders seemed to leave both sides with positions unchanged.

Wednesday morning House Democrats announced a plan to reopen the government by passing six separate bills that would fund most government departments through the remainder of the fiscal year. A seventh bill would provide temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8 but would not include funding for the wall. Democrats plan to pass their proposals on Thursday.

At the meeting on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump and Republican leaders said that the Democrat plan would be a nonstarter. Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate would not vote on the Democratic measures and would not take up any bill that the president would not sign.

“The Senate will be glad to vote on a measure that the House passes that the president will sign. But we’re not going to vote on anything else,” McConnell told CNN after the meeting, adding that he hoped that a deal could be reached within “days” or “weeks.”

When asked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer why he would not support a partial reopening of the government, President Trump replied, “I would be foolish if I did that.”

At issue is funding over President Trump’s proposed border wall. The president is asking for $5 billion for his pet project and Democrats have only been willing to agree to $1.3 billion for border security. Trump also rejected a compromise by Vice President Pence that would have provided about half of the president’s funding request.

The current shutdown has already lasted for 13 days. The longest shutdown on record occurred from December 1995 through January 1996 and lasted 22 days. A shutdown in 1978 that lasted 18 days and the 2013 shutdown that lasted 16 days are also so far longer than the current shutdown.

With the shutdown occurring over the holidays, the effect of about 25 percent of the government being closed has been muted. As the nation goes back to work, however, the nuisance of having government offices closed will increase. About 380,000 federal workers have been told to stay home and another 420,000 have been told to work without pay. At this point, there is no way of knowing when they will be paid again. Among the government functions halted by the shutdown are the issuance of USDA rural loans and E-Verify checks of the immigration status of new employees.

Neither party has the votes to force their will on the other. A funding bill would have to navigate the Democrat-controlled House as well as the Republican-controlled Senate. Legislation in the Senate also needs Democrat votes for cloture. President Trump also has the power to veto legislation that does not meet his requirements.

Any resolution to the shutdown will require both parties to compromise. So far, neither has shown any sign of willingness to do so. The only strategy of either party is to blame the other side and hope that they eventually give in.

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David Thornton

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