Trump, Congress reach short-term deal to end government shutdown
On its 35th day, the longest government shutdown in United States history has finally come to an end. (For a little while, anyway!). According to officials on Capitol Hill, President Trump and Congressional leaders have reached a agreement to re-open shuttered government agencies for three weeks. This agreement does not involve any funding for Trump's border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Due to the partial government shutdown, 800,000 federal employees have been either forced to take unpaid time off or work without pay, to be reimbursed later. This week, those workers missed their second paycheck, a crucial loss when you are struggling to make ends meet. Reportedly some unpaid federal workers have been seeking out homeless shelters to find food for their families.
The longer the government shutdown goes on, the more dire the effects. TSA agents have been calling in sick to work, making airports more nightmarish and air travel more dangerous. This week the unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants warned that they "cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play," nor predict "the point at which the entire system will break."
In addition, national parks have gone without maintenance, accumulating huge piles of trash. National museums have been forced to close. The New York Times reported that economy is beginning to take significant damage. If the shutdown were to extend for months, it could have devastating consequences, affecting food inspection, food stamp distribution, tax return processing and funding for the courts.
Just before Christmas, Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that President Trump was expected to sign. In case, lawmakers were so confident that he would sign it that they were reportedly singing Christmas carols as they voted. However, in a surprise move, the president refused to sign this bill because it contained no funding for his long-promised US-Mexico border wall. (Which he repeatedly said Mexico would pay for during his campaign.)
A couple weeks earlier, President Trump claimed he would take full responsibility for a government shutdown, during a meeting Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer. "I am proud to shut down the government for border security," said Trump. "I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down." However, after Trump caused the shutdown by refusing to sign the spending bill, he flip-flopped, tweeting, "The Democrats own the shutdown!"
As the shutdown stretched on, Trump's poll numbers dropped, and Americans overwhelmingly blamed the president and the Republicans for the shutdown. The president tried to win more people to his side by addressing the country from the Oval Office on prime-time television. In the eight minute speech, he argued that the border wall is the most effective way to address a humanitarian crisis at the border. In response, the Democrats argued that the crisis is manufactured, and they support strong borders, but the US-Mexico border wall is an ineffective waste of money.
Last weekend, Trump offered the Democrats a deal, where DACA protections would be extended for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion of wall funding. However, Democratic leaders rejected this offer, believing that temporary DACA extensions in exchange for a down payment on a permanent wall is not a fair deal. They argued that the government should be re-opened before debating solutions to illegal immigration.
Now it appears President Trump has conceded to the Democrats' demands, as the government shutdown has taken its toll on the country. This week the Senate voted on two deals, one proposal backed by the White House offering temporary DACA protections for $5.7 billion in wall funding, and one proposal backed by Democrats offering to re-open the government with no wall funding. Both deals failed, but the Democrats' deal received more votes, as six Republican senators broke from their party.
So, the good news is that the government is open now! (Woo-hoo!) The bad news is, we might have go through all this again in three weeks. (D'oh!) I don't know what caused Trump and Congress to make a deal, but I hope it was Cardi B's viral rant.