To quote Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Officially, as I write this, it is the 26th day of the partial government shutdown. More than a month ago, in a meeting with Democratic leaders of the incoming legislature, Trump said he would, “own the shutdown,” because in his mind the best thing for the safety and security of this country is to build a wall.
What is truly behind the shutdown is the funding of operations for the federal agencies which actually are the daily working elements of the government. From the National Park Service to the Food and Drug Administration, even the Transportation Safety Agency and so many other sections controlled by the government are all funded by taxpayer dollars. The allocation of this money is accomplished initially by Congress proposing a budget – or at least a spending bill – to establish the budgetary guidelines for each department. As there is no assigned budget for the fiscal year, the argument between the Oval Office and the Legislature is to provide a temporary fix (a spending bill) as a band-aid until an annual, fiscal budget can be agreed upon at all levels of the government.
The budget is proposed by Congress. This proposal then goes to the Senate, and finally to the President’s desk to be signed. Up until the day before the shutdown on December 21st, a proposed spending bill had passed through Congress and the Senate and was headed for the President’s signature – it provided for funding towards border security but did not specifically state any funding for Trump’s wall. So, he pulled his support for the bill and shut down the government.
The Democrats came to power with the start of the new year, and have since put forth a spending bill which had previously been approved by House and Senate. But now, the Senate won’t pass that bill because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The shutdown has prevented national parks and museums to open to the public – or even be maintained, with trash and other problems piling up instead of being cleaned and fixed by maintenance people. There is even talk that the military and other security agencies not receiving their pay.
Consider this – an alternative is available.
Simply put, instead of a basic majority vote from the House or Senate, there is a possibility that if enough approval is garnered in the Legislature, that it will not need the President’s approval. This is a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate, and can be accomplished if enough pressure were put on the elected representatives in those bodies.
Independent polls by various news agencies and other information-gathering sites are already showing fewer people supporting the Wall, and many wanting an end to the shutdown so business can return to normal with the government. Depending on which polling data you look at, the average approval rating is hovering around 40 percent – not quite his lowest since taking office, but he has never topped 50 percent. Right now, as the shutdown continues, this rating is trending downward. Only the staunchest of supporters (like Mitch McConnell) are sticking by Trump, and if this shutdown continues, some of them may start to wonder if they should continue to do so.
According to Trump, the shutdown could last months, or even years, if he doesn’t get the full funding for his wall. As much as he claims to be the best negotiator of deals, his current lack of compromise and negotiation is certainly putting that – and The People – to the test.