Government Shutdown Comes to an End without Wall Funding

On January 25, 2019 after more than a month of the government being shut down, President Trump announced that he will back a short-term funding bill to reopen the government that does not include funds to construct a wall along the southern border. This victory is due to Democrats who have refused the President’s demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding. President Trump had claimed for weeks that he would not reopen the government without that money. According to the President, a bipartisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers will meet to develop a funding proposal for border security, including the physical barriers separating the U.S. from Mexico.

President Trump mentioned that if he cannot get a “fair deal,” the government will shut down again on February 15, 2019 or he may even declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build the wall using the powers afforded to him under the laws and the Constitution of the United States. President Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion to fund the wall is what triggered the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, 2018. Since then, Democrats have persistently opposed providing any money for the structure. According to government officials the President decided to end the shutdown because some members of the Democratic party have indicated they would support wall funding.

President Trump spent a great majority of his speech on January 25, 2019, warning that the U.S. would be overwhelmed by crime and illegal immigration without a wall and increased border security. He mentioned that federal workers are “incredible patriots” who “have suffered far greater than anyone.” 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay during the shutdown that lasted 35 days. There are also signs that the shutdown was taking a toll on the President’s political standing. An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed the president’s disapproval rating rising to 58% over the past three months as the majority of Americans blame him and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown.

According to financial rating agency, Standard & Poor, the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States cost the country at least $6 billion. The agency points out that the cost was actually more expensive than the $5.7 billion President Trump wanted for the border wall. The rating agency previously estimated that the U.S. economy would lose close to $1.2 billion of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for each week the shutdown progressed. A sum of direct costs, lost productivity from furloughed government workers, and indirect costs, from lost economic activity outside businesses because of the shutdown determined that the weekly costs likely widened beyond the average weekly cost of $1.2 billion.

The re-opening of government is an important step in recognizing both that the federal government provides critical services such as protecting air travel and providing food assistance to families. Also, that federal workers, like all workers, play a critical role in the functioning of our economy. Although the funding battle has come to a halt for now, the next one may start in the next few weeks or an emergency declaration for that matter. Both have been threatened should Congress not approve the border wall that President Trump has demanded.

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