Trump Signs Bill to Reopen Government

On Friday, Jan. 25, President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government after 35 days under a short-term agreement. After the standoff failed to convince Democrats to supply him with billions of dollars for his long-promised wall, Trump signed a bill that would give them three weeks to reach a compromise on how to secure the southwest border. 

While hundreds of thousands of federal employees returned to work the following Monday – with a presidential promise at a long-awaited paycheck “very quickly or as soon as possible” – there was no guarantee that they will be working when Feb. 15 comes around. When asked about the odds that a deal would be struck before then, President Trump stated on Sunday, “I personally think it’s less than 50-50.” He said that if an agreement could not be reached, he would use emergency powers to fund the wall, declaring a national emergency. 

Democrats, refusing to revel in this victory, said they would work to strike a deal on border security, and have raised their offer on border security funding considerably. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated clearly that any compromise will not include money for a new border wall, which Democrats have viewed as ineffective and overly costly. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, have repeatedly stated that they support allocating additional money for technology and increased patrols along the border. 

Courtesy: Bangor Daily News

Despite the fact that Trump expressed sympathy for the federal workers who had missed out on their paychecks – something he had not done until now – other costs will be more permanent. Many federal contractors do not expect to be repaid for their work during the shutdown, and its effects will ultimately cost the government more money than if it had remained open. While the long-term economic damage remained to be seen, it appears that the short-term pain was pricier than a down payment on the border wall. According to an analysis from Standard and Poor’s, not only did an estimated 800,000 federal workers miss their paychecks for over a month, but the United States’ economy lost at least $6 billion in that time – more than the $5.7 billion that Trump had requested.

Ryan Baugh, a Department of Homeland Security statistician and a steward for the American Federation of Government Employees, said that the possibility of another shutdown had a damaging effect. He promised they would work hard for the next three weeks, stating, “You could still use the word ‘hostage.’ We’re still the bargaining chip here.”

Aware of the looming Feb. 15 deadline, some lawmakers are attempting to pass a law that would outlaw future government shutdowns. Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said on Friday after the announcement, “Shutting down the government should be as off limits in budget negotiations as chemical warfare is in real warfare.”

After this battle, several polls found that American’s primarily blamed the president for the shutdown; others also suggested that Trump may be losing favor with voters.