Democrats are now negotiating with the White House over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. If they fail to reach a compromise, there could possibly be a partial government shutdown right before Christmas. It would be the third one since Trump took office at the beginning of 2017.
Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller declared that the White House planned to do “whatever is necessary to build the border wall,” even if a functioning government was at risk. When reporters asked him if he was willing to temporarily close down federal agencies to advance the project, he said: “If it comes to it, absolutely.”
“This is a very fundamental issue,” Miller told CBS. “At stake is the question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country.”
Days before Miller’s controversial statement, Trump had a never-seen-before argument with Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on December 11th. In a heated, televised exchange, Trump demanded $5 billion for his border wall. But Democrats only agreed to $1.3 billion, arguing that a wall would be an ineffective response to the border crisis and a waste of money and resources.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump said angrily while America watched this unprecedented fight unfold before its eyes. “The people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”
Controversy over border security intensified after a tragic incident earlier this month in which a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal died of dehydration and shock after he was taken into Border Patrol custody. A statement from CBP wrote that the child “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”
According to Ruben Garcia, founder of a charity group named Annunciation House, the girl’s father said Caal was fully healthy before she was taken into custody.
“He’s been very clear, very consistent that his daughter was healthy, and his daughter very much wanted to come with him,” Garcia told reporters at a news conference. Caal’s parents are now pressing for a full investigation.
The Congress and the White House have only a few days left to decide what to do with the border wall funding. If they do not reach a resolution before December 21st, the government will be partially closed. The current prospect does not look good.
Democrats in the Senate claimed on Sunday that they would not consider offering more than $1.3 billion for Trump’s project.
“President Trump should understand — there are not the votes for the wall, in the House or the Senate. He is not going to get the wall in any form,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) told NBC.
Trump “shouldn’t use innocent workers as hostage for his temper tantrum to sort of throw a bone to his base,” he added
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) echoed Schumer’s statements and urged Republicans to convince Trump to accept the offer. “It’s up to the president to accept this. I don’t think he will, but for the good of this country, I hope he does,” he said on ABC.
Many Republicans seemed equally worried about a government shutdown and tried to find other solutions to their current dilemma. They suggested a short-term funding scheme. However, the president rejected the proposal even though it would give the administration two or even three more weeks to work out a permanent solution.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was still optimistic that they could find a way to keep the government open, although he did not provide details about any potential compromise.
“There are people working on this to get to a conclusion so the government will remain open, which is what I believe the American people would prefer,” he said.
“There are a lot of things you need to do with border security,” he continued. “One is a physical barrier, but also the technology, the manpower, the enforcement, all of those things, and our current laws are in some ways an incentive for people to come to this country illegally, and they go through great risk and possibly great harm.”
Featured image via Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post