US gov’t shutdown ends, but border issue remains

US gov’t shutdown ends, but border issue remains

Agency News

Washington, Jan 26 : Friday saw the end of the longest-ever US government shutdown. But the issue that started it -- border security -- remains unresolved.

On the day, the White House said that U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a bill funding the government for three weeks and put 800,000 federal employees back to work, but without a deal yet with Congress on his desire for 5.7 billion U.S. dollars to build a wall on the U.S. southern border, which means the bargaining on the wall will go on.

Trump has for two years promised his supporters a wall to stop the tide of illegal immigration coming from the U.S. southern border. But Democrats said the wall is expensive, sends the wrong message to neighbors, and is unlikely to fix the problem.

A month-long impasse followed the Dec. 22 shutdown, whereby Democrats refused to fund the wall and Trump refused to re-open the government, leaving nearly a million federal workers without pay. Political pressure mounted, as polls showed Americans blamed Trump for the shutdown.

"Trump was suffering serious political backlash against his instigation of the government shutdown," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"Republicans were being blamed much more for the shutdown than Democrats and that led many Senate Republicans to push for a resolution. They needed to limit the political fallout so that it does not torpedo GOP party prospects next year," West said.

The White House said Trump signed into law the "Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019," which includes funding for the federal government through Feb. 15.

Trump said in a speech on Friday that if an agreement can't be reached by Feb. 15 and the government is shut once again, he would use his presidential authority to deal with what he billed "a national emergency."

"As commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the defense of our great country," he said.


It remains unknown now how Trump will address border security going forward. Trump reiterated his previous thoughts about the possibility of declaring a "national emergency" -- a legal mechanism that would allow the president to use the military to build the wall. But he added that he didn't want to use that option.

Justin Bogie, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told Xinhua that all indications are that Trump "would declare a national emergency if border security negotiations fail. Trump has fairly broad power to do so, though it would almost certainly be challenged in the court system."

West said declaring a national emergency would lead to a court case "that will drag out for months. Trump will go into his re-election campaign not having much construction to show voters, even if he wins that case."

Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of Congress and the Presidency, told Xinhua Trump has "reserved the right to declare such an emergency, but there will also be pressure from Congress, including Republican members, to avoid setting that precedent regarding the balance of powers."


Mahaffee said Friday's ending of the shutdown was a "significant setback for President Trump," as Democrats remained united and pressure rose on the White House to reopen government.

"The President's approval ratings were falling as the shutdown went on. The public was increasingly concerned about the impact of the shutdown on the economy, small business, and federal workers."

"As this goes ahead, there will be a window for some negotiation, but there is not the appetite -- either in Congress or among the American people--for the type of wall that the President and the Trump base desire," Mahaffee said.

Writing for CNN, Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, argued that Friday was a major win for House Speaker and Trump nemesis Nancy Pelosi.

"Trump leaves the budget battle without getting what he wanted, badly damaged with the electorate, including among some Republican voters, and with the first cracks having emerged among congressional Republicans. This was not how he wanted to head into the (new) year," Zelizer said.

Trump's base, many of whom are white, working class males, believe illegal migrants create lower wages and take their jobs, and it remains unknown how Trump's base will receive the president's actions in the lead up to the 2020 elections. (UNI)