The House of Representatives has passed legislation to reopen the federal government following almost two weeks of shutdown. Sounds like progress, right? Unfortunately, it may not be, as the legislation now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to be shot down quickly.
The major sticking point between the Democrats, who hold the House majority, and the Republicans, who power the Senate, is the lack of funding for a border wall. President Trump has made the $5 billion request and Democrats have fought back at every step.
The partial government shutdown began in late December 2018. According to CNN, this is the 4th longest shutdown in U.S. history and the first time that a government shutdown has bridged turnover in Congress. Many newly elected representatives and senators are now in a position to take action for or against proposed legislation.
The central figures in this shutdown are President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Republicans for the Wall
The official White House statement makes it clear that not including funding for a border wall is a deal-breaker for any legislation coming up. “The administration is committed to working with the Congress to reopen lapsed agencies, but cannot accept legislation that provides unnecessary funding for wasteful programs while ignoring the nation’s urgent border security needs,” it read. “If either H.R.21 or H.J. Res.1 were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
President Trump said that the pushback about the border wall and resulting shutdown is a calculated game aimed at disrupting the 2020 election. He took to his favorite platform, Twitter, to call attention to what he thinks are the true motives of the Democrats:
The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2019
Vice President Mike Pence has also weighed in on the needed negotiations to put the government back in business. “The American people want to see action and we’re going to continue to engage Democrats and Republicans to come together and to achieve the kind of agreement that will provide the border security the American people need,” he said.
Democrats Against the Wall
Pelosi and other Democrats believe that the president is “holding hostage” federal employees and those whose livelihood depends on the federal government being open for business. Pelosi blamed the president for the shutdown, saying that it was within his power to reopen the federal government.
.@realDonaldTrump has the Senate, the White House, and the House (for the moment) under Republican control. He has the power to keep government open – but instead, he says he’s going to shut down the government. #TrumpShutdown pic.twitter.com/Pdbo4rH0sG
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 11, 2018
Speaking as the reelected Speaker of the House following the mid-terms, Pelosi vowed that a wall was not a possibility. “We’re not doing a wall,” she said in a press conference before the House vote. “Does anyone have any doubt? We are not doing a wall.”
The legislation passed in the House with unanimous Democrat support and even some Republicans joining by voting yes regarding reopening the government.
Negotiations continue between the parties without a clear end in sight. Solutions proposed have included support for Dreamers, those undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and are now adults, in exchange for border wall funding.
Even if the legislation currently making its way to the Senate passes, President Trump has said that he will veto anything that doesn’t include money to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, federal employees impacted by the government shutdown wait in their homes, without pay, to see when they will go back to work.