The longest shutdown and the most disruptive in American history since the 70s finally ends with legislators condemning the closure of federal agencies as a futile and precarious tool to use in policy disputes.
Approximately 800,000 federal workers became unemployed or were working but remained unpaid within the duration of the shutdown. “We hope that by the end of this week, all the back pay will be made up,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in a statement to media.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said “Shutdowns are not good leverage in any negotiation,” and is now pushing for congressional discussion that would engage in border security matters. On the other hand, Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives, said that shutdowns were “not legitimate negotiating tactics” in public policy differences between two branches of government.
Shutdown bill challengers/detractors Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Rob Portman have initiated different bills to thwart future shutdown attempts. Possibilities for their drafting into law have yet to be determined. However, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke positively of these bills during a press conference.
Retreat but no surrender? Trump backed away from his insistence on subsidizing a U.S.-Mexico border wall which was what triggered the shutdown of about a quarter of the government. However, he threatens to resume the closure of federal agencies on Feb 15 if he does not get what he wants.
The never-ending demand? The US President ordered that US$5.7 billion in wall financing be a component of any measure to end the shutdown, which began when a number agencies already ran out of money on Dec 22 for reasons not linked to immigration or border security.
Democrats resisted the demand, leading 35-day clash that ruined the economy, jeopardized many federal workers’ lives and tested Americans’ patience with delays to air travel, closures of national parks and other disruptions.
Before Trump won the presidency, he vowed to erect wall, with Mexico paying for it. However, Mexico refused to this condition and now Trump wants U.S. taxpayers to pay for the border blockade, which he sees can help curtain illegal immigration and stop illegal drug flows into the country.
Ill-advised? Aside from the threat of another shutdown, Trump claimed the possibility of a national emergency declaration at the border in an attempt to outwit and skirt around Congress’s purse-string power by tapping Defense Department funds to pay for wall construction.
This move can certainly elicit a hasty, time-consuming legal battle from congressional Democrats on constitutional grounds.
Rubio said in a statement that the emergency option was “a terrible idea.” A legal skirmish would place the administration “at the mercy of a district court somewhere and ultimately an appellate court.”
The senator said it would set a negative pattern. “It doesn’t provide certainty. You could very well wind up in sort of a theatric victory at the front end, and then not getting it done……. The best way to do it is to have a law passed.”