The United States federal government is headed towards a partial shutdown from Friday with no end in sight yet to differences over President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico that are holding up the passage of a spending plan.
Most of the government, three-fourths, will remain open with their spending plans approved till next September, the end of the next fiscal year. Bills regarding the budgets of the department of homeland security, which deals with immigration, and the departments of justice and interior. are held up over Trump’s demand of $5 billion for the wall.
The deadline is Friday midnight.
Building the wall to stop illegal immigration has been a key election plank for President Trump and he has been under pressure from his base to deliver. But the likelihood of the Congress giving him that money has been slim, and he hasn’t had any success even with his own party controlling the two chambers.
Even if the current House of Representatives were to allocate the money, the bill will not pass the Senate without the support of Democrats, who have opposed the wall and declared they have no intention of agreeing to the president’s demand, and have called him out on it publicly.
At a meeting in the White House last week, Trump told Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, that he was willing to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the border wall funding. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle of shutting it down”.
Stephen Miller, a presidential aide considered most hawkish on immigration, doubled down on the president’s threat, and told CBS News Sunday, “This is a very fundamental issue. At stake is the question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country. Whether or not we can establish and enforce rules for entrance into our country.”
Democrats are not budging. of course, and have offered to approve a meagre sum, comparatively, of $1.6 billion for “border security”, and not a wall. And this is the president’s last chance to get the funding he wants as control of the House passes into the hands of Democrats next January.
Trump is trying to shift the blame for what is clearly a bad situation on Democrats. “Anytime you hear a Democrat saying that you can have good Border Security without a Wall, write them off as just another politician following the party line,’ he wrote on Twitter Monday, reposting a tweet that had earlier misspelt “border” as “boarder”.
First Published: Dec 17, 2018 23:07 IST
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