by Kelly Martella ’21
For the 35 days the government was shutdown, there seemed to be no end in sight. However, in a surprising turn of events, it was announced on Jan. 25 that the government would be reopening—sort of.
Last Friday, President Trump signed a bill that would temporarily reopen the federal government for three weeks, beginning on Jan. 28.
The recent government shutdown, which has been the longest in U.S. history, began on Dec. 22, after Congress failed to approve a budget including funds for the proposed border wall. The wall has long been a priority for President Trump.
Ever since announcing his election campaign in 2015, he has been adamant about building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent people from illegally entering the country. The wall is part of Trump’s solution to strengthen national border security.
The need for immigration reform is an issue acknowledged by both parties, but for as long as Trump has been emphasizing a wall, many Democrats have avidly opposed it.
In addition to pointing out flaws in the actual construction and funding, many of them oppose the wall for what it represents. They argue that a physical barrier closing off entrance to the U.S. goes against the ideals of America, a sentiment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has echoed frequently, calling it “immoral.”
The temporary reopening comes on the heels of rising frustration among the American people. One of the biggest criticisms of the shutdown was that the 800,000 federal workers were not receiving their paychecks, including some employees working in essential agencies who still had to report to work.
Although people will be compensated when the government opens again, it still put a financial strain on employees who live paycheck to paycheck.
Both sides cited this as their motive to agree to the temporary reopening: on Twitter, Speaker Pelosi wrote that it was “for America’s families & small businesses, as well as ensure federal workers finally receive the pay they deserve;” President Trump tweeted that “it was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown.”
Although the shutdown was initially due to disagreement over the national border security budget, the actual policy does not seem to be the issue anymore.
It has turned into a standoff between the President and Congress, ultimately symbolizing a test of powers, and reluctance to concede. Both sides have stood firm in their positions.
Trump has repeatedly noted that he will not take less than a $5.7 billion budget for the wall; likewise, Congress has refused the President’s proposed compromise, which included temporary protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. These uncompromising stances will make negotiations difficult, because, as Trump commented on Twitter, “both parties [are] very dug in.”
While the government is currently reopened, this is by no means a permanent solution.
The temporary nature of the agreement means that the government will have three weeks to resolve the budget. If no solution is reached, the President could declare a national emergency or the government could shut down again.
President Trump has expressed his willingness to take either of these routes. The countdown is on until Feb. 15, and we will have to wait and see if a resolution can be reached before time is up.