The pace of negotiations was frenetic yesterday as budgets for certain agencies expired, forcing them to close as of midnight last night. Agencies affected comprise about 25% of the federal government and include the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. (The shutdown does not include “essential personnel”, so critical functions will be still be manned.)
The cause (in case you have been hiking through the Andes for the last month) is that President Trump is insisting that $5.7 Billion be included in the continuing resolution bill for further construction of the Mexican border wall. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have steadfastly refused to allow Democratic members to vote for a bill that includes this measure.
Earlier this week it seemed as though Trump was softening on this requirement, as White House Press Secretary Sanders told the press that Trump really didn’t want to shut down the government. The Democrats took this as an opportunity to take a hard stance, refusing even a compromise budget in any spending bill. However, Trump has now taken the hard line, demanding that $5.7 Billion be included, some say as a result of harsh criticism from politically right commentators such as Anne Coulter.
Coulter has been a consistent voice badgering Trump to get the wall built. Her comments include, “NEW COLUMN IS POSTED! GUTLESS PRESIDENT IN WALL-LESS COUNTRY” and “My prediction is his support will evaporate and Trump will very likely not finish his term and definitely not be elected to a second term”
A bill including the border wall funding passed the House, but stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to stop the filibuster and go to a vote. Senators left their chambers today with no resolution.
Trump has said consistently he will trade a government shutdown for border wall funding, quoted Wednesday as “totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”
President Trump has been encouraging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the “nuclear option,” meaning an over all change in the Senate rules to pass bills with a simple majority. However, other have commented that the 60 vote rule has saved America from countless over-reaching Democratic bills, during times when Democrats held a majority in the Senate.
According to reports, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that no vote would be scheduled for Saturday and that members would be given 24 hours notice before a new vote is to be scheduled.
Congress had already passed five spending bills in September that covers about 75% of the government for the next year. Agencies covered by these bills will not shut down, and include Pentagon and Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Veterans Affairs.
Editor’s note: It is gratifying to see Trump step up and fight to keep this important campaign promise. As I have mentioned many times, in thirty years we will look back and see that the wall is President Trump’s most important legacy.