A [Not So] Happy New Year for Many Federal Employees
While January 1, 2019, marked the opening of a New Year, the federal government remained closed with thousands of employees on furlough. President Donald J. Trump took credit—or blame—for the shutdown. In a December 11, 2018, meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the president said, “Yes, if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other—whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call–I will shut down the government, absolutely. And I am proud—I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.” Pelosi dubbed the move the “Trump Shutdown” and #trumpshutdown caught on quickly on social media.
Trump is seeking to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico, a move opposed by most Democrats. Challengers argue that a wall would be ineffective and that it also strikes at the core American ideal set forth in Emma Lazarus’s 1883 poem immortalized upon the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Additionally, they argue, there are more pressing needs in our country. The president, however, claims the move is in the best interest of national security. On December 27, he tweeted, “Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking,Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country.”
While Trump campaigned on the promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, he has changed focus and is now demanding that American taxpayers foot the bill. According to a January 1 Associated Press article, “President Donald Trump on Tuesday invited congressional leaders to a White House briefing on border security as the partial government shutdown dragged on over funding for a border wall, with Trump tweeting, ‘Let’s make a deal?’” With a new, Democrat-controlled Congress set to be sworn in on Thursday of this week, the road for Trump will only get more difficult.