Mitch McConnell; Nancy Pelosi (Getty/Salon)

Groundhog Day in D.C.: Capitol Hill filled with dread as another shutdown looms

Yet another shutdown could arrive on Friday, but nobody in Washington wants it — except maybe that one guy


Matthew Rozsa
February 11, 2019 4:41PM (UTC)

As President Trump prepares to push America into the second government shutdown of 2019 over his proposed border wall, Democrats and Republicans alike are bracing for the inevitable — and widely dreaded — political storm.

Trump himself made it clear in a pair of Sunday tweets that he welcomes a government shutdown in order to receive his border wall.

Advertisement:

"I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!" Trump tweeted.

He followed that up by attempting to rub salt in recent wounds: "It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown. They want a new subject!"

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney foreshadowed the same outcome during an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"Let's say the hardcore left wing of the Democrat Party prevails in this negotiation and they put a bill on the president's desk with, say, zero money for the wall, or $800 million, an absurdly low number," Mulvaney explained. "How does he sign that?" He later continued:

The president really does believe that there is a national security crisis and a humanitarian crisis at the border, and he will do something about it. So whether or not he gets $1.6 billion from Congress, whether or not he gets $2.5 [billion] or $5.7 [billion], he's going to do whatever he legally can to secure that border. There are pots of money where all presidents have access to without a national emergency. And there are ones that he will not have access to without that declaration.

Despite the president's apparent glee at the prospect of a new  shutdown, congressional Republicans are less than thrilled by that prospect, according to CNN. The previous shutdown led to a perceived political victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, and drove Republicans' overall approval ratings even lower. So most GOP leaders are understandably not eager to try that all over again. Furthermore, if Trump declares a national emergency to appropriate border wall funds instead of shutting down the government, Senate Republicans are concerned that would set a precedent future Democratic administrations could use to advance their own policy goals, such as gun control or fighting climate change.

Democrats, on the other hand, don't want to endanger the political advantages they gained from Pelosi's triumphant stare-down with the president last time around. Trump evidently feels he needs to produce border-wall funding in order to placate his far-right base. If he drags on a shutdown into the indefinite future, Democrats run the risk that public perception of fault will eventually boomerang against everyone in Congress, not just the GOP.

Advertisement:

At the same time, Democrats blame Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a key GOP negotiator, for taking a hardline stance on the border wall issue. That may have steered Trump away from greater flexibility and a likely compromise, according to Politico.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa



Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •