President Trump agrees to open government for three weeks without funding for a border wall


Iowa State Daily

Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government without border wall funding Friday, Jan 25.

Devyn Leeson

President Donald Trump has agreed to approve a funding measure that would reopen the government temporarily, ending the record-setting 35-day partial shutdown.

Trump announced the decision to reopen the government until Feb. 15 on Friday at the White House. Funding for the $5.7 billion wall was not part of the agreement Trump and lawmakers reached.

The decision comes after the partial shutdown left more than 800,000 federal employees either furloughed or without pay — a situation that led to reports stating there were issues staffing air traffic control and other government-run systems. Once funded, Trump said these workers would receive their backfilled pay, as soon as possible.

“We were starting to see huge problems,” said Taylor Blair, junior in industrial design and president of Iowa State College Democrats. “They had to shut down the [La Guardia] airport in New York City, and a lot of federal workers have been suffering real financial hardships.”

Lawmakers in the Senate failed to come to an agreement over two separate funding measures Thursday. While one Democrat in the Senate voted for the Republican option to fund the government and a border wall, six Republicans broke from their party and voted for the measures that lacked funding for a border wall.

“He didn’t really have any other options,” Blair said. “He was losing party support, and the American people were really blaming him for the shutdown.” 

President of Iowa State College Republicans Jacob Minock said he was happy to see Democrats and Republicans compromising over the shutdown issue, and that federal workers shouldn’t get caught in these political crossfires.

“Even a short term deal is a good step,” Minock said.

Trump, who has said he would not reopen the government without funding for the wall, alluded to a “powerful alternative” in his Friday speech that he could use to fund his border wall proposal.

“As everyone knows, I have a very powerful alternative,” Trump said. “But I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully it will be unnecessary.”

Trump hinted at this same option at the U.S. border with Mexico on Jan. 12, saying he could declare a national emergency at the border and use emergency funds to bypass congress and fund the wall.

Mack Shelley, the political science chair for Iowa State, said Trump could declare a state of emergency, but it wouldn’t be an easy process. 

“He could do it, but not easily,” Shelley said. “If he does, he can dedicate unused disaster relief funds, more than $13 billion, to deal with immigration. But we’re not going to run out of natural disasters, and the money would be much better spent on that.”

Shelley also said Trump was creating a “manufactured crisis,” and that U.S. border security wasn’t significantly threatened. 

Minock said Trump has the option to declare a state of emergency, but it would still be preferable to pursue other political means.

“I want to see a wall, but I want to see it go through congress,” Minock said.

Minock said a majority of Americans support increased border security in the form of a combination of physical and electronic barriers, and that many Democrats are more concerned with defying anything Trump does than the policy substance of the issue. 

“As [Texas] Sen. Ted Cruz has pointed out, a lot of Democrats don’t like Trump,” Minock said. “Some of those Democrats’ constituents strongly oppose [the barrier], but among others the issue is more split.” 

A Harvard-Harris poll from January 2018 asked people if they support “building a combination of physical and electronic barriers across the U.S.-Mexico border?” Fifty-four percent of people said they do, and 46 percent of people said they don’t.

Blair said he would support high-tech, electronic security along the border because it would be cheaper and more efficient than a wall. 

“Democrats and Republicans know that a wall wouldn’t really do anything,” Blair said. “I don’t know if Trump knows that, though.” 

Blair also pointed out that the conditions of the government reopening are very similar to a senate-approved bill that Trump refused to sign in December 2018. 

Like they did with the earlier bill, the Democrats agreed to allot more than $1 billion in federal funding for border security in order for the government to reopen. Blair doesn’t think they will ever agree to a wall. 

“Trump basically agreed to the bill he refused to sign last year,” Blair said. “It’s become clear the Democrats won’t accept the wall. The American people don’t want the wall, either.” 

A CBS poll from Jan. 23 found that 66 percent of people believed that Trump should agree to a budget without funding for the wall rather than continue the shutdown. Seventy-one percent of people didn’t think the wall was worth shutting down the government. 

The poll also found that 52 percent of Americans believe the Democrats should agree to a budget with wall funding if it meant the shutdown would end.