by Darren Squillace ’19
For the first time in nearly five years, the United States federal government shut down when the clock struck midnight on Friday evening, and did not re-open until Monday morning. The shutdown came as a result of senators failing to come to an agreement on a deal to fund the government that was passed through the House of Representatives. Immediately after the shutdown began, the discussion around Capitol Hill immediately shifted to whose fault it was. President Trump was quick to blame Democrats for the shutdown.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement about the shutdown as it was occurring, stating, “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.” The Democrats, on the other hand, were quick to retaliate and lay blame upon the majority party in Congress. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went as far as to label it “the Trump shutdown.”
The shutdown, however, turned out to be briefer than the one we experienced in 2013 that revolved around the budget of the country. By Monday night, President Trump signed a bill officially ending the weekend shutdown that established a plan to fund the government for the next three weeks. Yet the bill that was ultimately passed by both chambers of Congress was not just an agreement on how to properly fund the government.
The shutdown was also a fight over the negotiations that are to take place over immigration in the coming weeks, specifically Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as Sanders had suggested. The bill required a bit of deal-making, as Republicans assured Democrats that legislation would be put on the Senate floor in the immediate future that will address issues surrounding immigration and border security. Trump immediately took to Twitter, stating, “Big win for Republicans as Democrats cave on Shutdown. Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats, and DACA, but especially for our Great Military and Border Security. Should be able to get there. See you at the negotiating table!”
While the congressional vote temporarily resolved the issue of funding, neither side of the debate is out of the woods as it pertains to this issue or those pertaining to immigration. The DACA program alone has allowed approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrant children to live here in the United States.
How both Democrats and Republicans move forward and handle the key issues that triggered the shutdown could be crucial to how the 2018 midterm elections will play out for both sides, as the Republicans currently hold a one-seat advantage over the Democrats in the Senate. At the center of it all will be President Trump, who will be forced to put his deal-making skills to the test.