The U.S. Edges Closer to Second Government Shutdown of 2019

Trump’s February 15 deadline for a border wall funding agreement edges closer and closer, and so does a another government shutdown.

Although initially the talks regarding border security funding between congressional parties seemed to be moving in a positive direction, this weekend saw those talks stall as the U.S. edges closer to Trump’s February 15 deadline.

After a historically long 35-day U.S. government shutdown, President Trump agreed to reopen the government on January 25. However, Trump also warned that if further negotiations have not secured him the border wall funding he has demanded by February 15, he would allow the government to once again shutdown. This border wall funding agreement was the main point of contention that ultimately resulted in the previous shutdown, as Trump demanded $5.7 billion to build his signature U.S.-Mexico border wall and the Democrats refusing to allocate said funds.

On the first day of the new negotiations, The Democrats once again put forward their proposal to allocate funds for more border agents, drones, retrofitting ports of entry, aircraft and boats, as well as humanitarian aid for immigrants. House Majority Whip James Clyburn previously called this a “smart wall”. But the Democrats have stood firmly in denying funds to build any kind of physical wall.

“There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation. It is not a negotiation for the president to say … ‘It doesn’t matter what Congress says.’ The president wants to have Congress be completely irrelevant in how we meet the needs of the American people? No, c’mon. Let them work their will. I’m an appropriator” — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

In the event Trump has not secured his desired funding for a physical U.S.-Mexico border wall by February 15, he has threatened to shut the government down again; the second time in 2019. This comes after the previous shutdown resulted in 800,000 federal workers being out of work or furloughed for the 35 days, delaying paycheques and forcing many to use food banks and selling precious items to survive. Tensions are rising as the February 15 deadline approaches, with the prospect of yet more financial crises for millions of American citizens.

Trump has also threatened to use his presidential powers to call a state of emergency along the southern border, giving him access to funding from such areas as the military and disaster relief. Trump could then redirect some of this funding to his border wall, which may well increase from his initial $5.7 billion demand to $7 billion.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.” — President Donald Trump

Declaring a state of emergency would keep the government from shutting down but some have expressed concern that it could set a dangerous precedent for circumventing Congress — and democracy — in the event a president doesn’t get what they want. The Republican party have even warned that this could enable future Democratic presidents to take similar action for such things as climate change or healthcare; two topics the GOP have repeatedly denied need attention.

Declaring a state of emergency is something usually reserved for the most dire of situations, such as war, terrorist attacks and health emergencies. Enacting this power to build a physical border wall — despite statistics showing an overall decline in illegal immigration into the U.S. since 2007— will likely be met with legal challenges, at least by the Democratic party.

More news to follow in the coming days.