The #TrumpShutdown Could Last For Weeks

Christmas is behind us, but don't expect any progress when it comes to the government shutdown, which is in its fifth day.

The Government shutdown, which has come to be widely referred to on Twitter with the hashtag #TrumpShutdown, that began on Friday continues, and there’s little sign it’s going to end soon:

A large swath of the federal government is shut down — and so are negotiations to reopen it.

President Donald Trump’s standoff with Democratic leaders over the border wall dragged into a third day on Monday, with no hopes on either side of a Christmas deal to break the stalemate. It’s been 48 hours since the last real discussions between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Vice President Mike Pence, and there’s growing sentiment in the Capitol that the closure could drag on until mid-January.

The president spent the day airing his grievances about the impasse on Twitter, saying he’s “waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.” And the Capitol was empty on Monday save for a quick House session and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who told everyone to prepare for a long standoff.

“This is my fifth shutdown. I’m beyond frustrated. LBJ said, ‘Sometimes you just have to hunker down like a jackass in a hailstorm and just take it.’ So that’s where we are,” Roberts told reporters. “Every one of the shutdowns I’ve been associated with have not worked. And they worked to the advantage of the people that are on the other side.”

While Trump has told allies he’d be willing to come down from his demand for $5 billion in border wall money, Democrats have stood firm on $1.3 billion for fencing, consistent with current spending levels. On Saturday, Pence offered Schumer a bill to reopen the government that would provide $2.1 billion for fencing and an additional $400 million for Trump’s other immigration priorities; Democrats countered with $1.3 billion in fencing and more aid for Puerto Rico as part of a disaster package, according to a person familiar with the talks, which essentially recirculated past offers.

Senior Republicans are now looking toward January as the likely end date for the shutdown, which is affecting a quarter of the federal government. Some GOP officials now predict nothing will budge until House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) becomes speaker; that could push the closure to early- to mid-January.

Once Pelosi takes over as speaker, she is expected to send a funding bill sans wall money to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Confident that Trump is losing the PR battle, Democrats have hardened their position, refusing to raise their $1.3 billion offer for border security. In a joint statement, Schumer and Pelosi said different White House officials are contradicting themselves in talks to end the shutdown, “making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment.”

In addition to Pence, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and adviser Jared Kushner had been leading talks with Schumer.

“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts,” the Democrats said of Trump. “As long as the president is guided by the House Freedom Caucus, it’s hard to see how he can come up with a solution that can pass both the House and Senate.”

Democrats have also been talking to Senate Appropriations chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who attended a lunch with Trump on Saturday. Shelby and House Freedom Caucus members were among the attendees, who hoped to get on the same page with the president about getting more border security money than Democrats have offered.

The president’s allies argue that Pelosi can’t compromise until she’s speaker.

“There’s no question that her speakership seems to be in balance against border security. That’s a problem they’re going to have to solve on the Democrats’ side,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Fox News. He implored Democrats to “meet in the middle and provide some resources for a wall and more resources for border security broadly.”

The shutdown has given Democrats another data point to portray Trump as an agent of chaos presiding over a flailing administration. In the past few days alone, the president pushed out Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, drew bipartisan scorn for his decision to pull American troops out of Syria and attacked the Federal Reserve chairman for raising interest rates as the president watched the stock market plunge.

This is basically the same message we were getting on Christmas Eve, of course, which isn’t surprising since basically everyone except the President, who lamented about being alone on Christmas Eve shortly before First Lady Melania Trump arrived back in D.C. from Florida with their son Barron to spend Christmas at the House. Negotiations, such as they are, may resume today but there seems to be little incentive or indication that either side is going to back down from their current position. At this point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear that the ball is basically in the court of the White House to negotiate with Democrats over the issue that continues to drive the shutdown, the fate of the President’s border wall. The President, meanwhile, has made it clear that he will not accept a deal that doesn’t include at least $5 billion in funding for his border wall, although it’s worth noting that Vice-President Pence and OMB Director and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were pedaling a possible deal that would reduce that funding to somewhere around $2 billion. Democrats, meanwhile, remain united on the idea that they will not agree to any deal that specifically includes authorization to spend any amount of money on a border wall, although they are open to spending on border security generally, which could include repairing areas of fencing that have been up since the Bush 43 Administration and earlier. Beyond that, though, Democrats have no incentive to compromise further given the fact that they’re scheduled to take control of the House of Representatives in just over a week, at which point they’ll be in a far stronger bargaining position than they are now. Furthermore, if they hold out then it’s likely that Democrats will get most if not all of what they want and that they will end up getting the political credit for ending the crisis while the President and the Republicans will end up getting the blame.

Taking all of this into account, the odds are that there will not be a settlement prior to the new Congress taking office January 3rd, and that it could take up to a week after that for the shutdown to be resolved depending on whether or not the President sees the political light or not. Given how things have gone so far, the odds are that he’ll respond to the new Congress by digging in even further in the belief that picking a fight with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats is somehow in his political interests. While that may be true among the members of his own base, but I suspect it is all just seen as political nonsense by the majority of Americans.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    El Cheeto seriously needs a crash course on how to do these things. Fortunately, one is available (merely 30 minutes!*) from 90s era philosopher Jerry Seinfeld:

    “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”.

    *Including commercials.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When I click on the headline of this post it takes me to a “News about TrumpShutdown” twitter thread. Is that on purpose?

  3. MarkedMan says:

    There is a fundamental problem here that needs to be resolved before any progress can be made. Trump is not negotiating. He acknowledged that he is just sitting around waiting for someone to come to him with an offer. The Republicans are not negotiating. They have learned that no matter what Trump or his people agree to, if Fox News gives him grief he will renege. And the Dems aren’t going to accept anything Mulvaney or anyone else on Trump’s staff says because they obviously have no real authority and can’t even serve as a reliable mouthpiece.

    Bottom line, this can’t be resolved until a deal is successfully negotiated and Trump is not negotiating. This is a mini-version of the dilemma that faced the country the day Trump was elected: it’s a situation that cannot hold, but there is no apparent way out.

  4. Tony W says:

    The goalposts on Trump’s wall have moved so many times I’m convinced now that we’re going to build a 10-foot long cedar fence in Ohio, call it a “wall”, and Trump will declare victory

  5. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Looks like some stray HTML code got copied into the Post Title field. I fixed it so that it doesn’t confuse things for people.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    While that may be true among the members of his own base, but I suspect it is all just seen as political nonsense by the majority of Americans.

    He always plays to the base, it’s all he knows.

  7. James Pearce says:

    Beyond that, though, Democrats have no incentive compromise further given the fact that they’re scheduled to take control of the House of Representatives in just over a week, at which point they’ll be in a far stronger bargaining position than they are now.

    Something to keep in mind as we all mourn the difficulties facing the federal workforce this holiday season.

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  8. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Beyond that, though, Democrats have no incentive compromise further given the fact that they’re scheduled to take control of the House of Representatives in just over a week, at which point they’ll be in a far stronger bargaining position than they are now.

    Something to keep in mind as we all mourn the difficulties facing the federal workforce this holiday season.

    I’m pretty sure that Trump has calculated that every day of shut down is a day that the new Democratic majority in the House has not convened to initiate new investigations.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    The unspoken truth is that of course a lot of Republicans – including GOP House members with border districts – don’t want the wall, either. The wall is nothing but another ego project for our desperately needy president. The 25-30 billion dollar monstrosity will never be built, so why in God’s name should we piss money away to salve the orangutan’s ego by building a tenth of a wall?

  10. Mr. Prosser says:

    Interesting tweet from Steven Beschloss over at Balloon Juice. He quotes (Is that correct for Twitter?) Trump saying in a tweet “The complete wall will be built with the shutdown money plus funds already in hand.” Beschloss points out Trump doesn’t think he has to pay federal workers after the shutdown ends, just like stiffing contractors at his building sites.

  11. de stijl says:

    It’s Boxing Day! I’m not British so I’m not fully contextualized, but I’m pretty sure it involves pajamas, irresponsible day drinking, leftovers, and crappy movies. It does for me.

    Badger from Breaking Bad is a pizza guy on How I Met Your Mother. No foolin’ – Badger is on HIMYM. The auto-completion on YouTube search bar just offered up something called “badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom” which I’m totally gonna watch.

    Boxing Day rocks!

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Mr. Prosser: Every discussion of Trump’s strategy should start with a deep breath and the remembrance that Trump is a lying’ moron. If he wants to cave and just tell his base that the Dems were the ones that caved, I’m fine with that.

  13. Mikey says:

    @de stijl:

    “badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom”

    An Internet classic, from the days BEFORE YouTube, i. e. 2003. Originally hosted on weebls-stuff.com along with a whole lot of other odd and amusing Flash animations.

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  14. de stijl says:

    Badger badger badger badger , mushroom mushroom was the realest shit I’ve ever seen.

    And the title is super accurate.
    Badger song (Badger badger badger , mushroom mushroom)
    https://youtu.be/NL6CDFn2i3I

    Thank you, internet!

    I love how they freak when the snake shows up.

    Breaking Bad Badger – Riverdance cold open (1:48)
    https://youtu.be/t_3u-G03Ri0

  15. Jax says:

    I have this daydream that when the new Congress gets sworn in, both houses pass a clean bill, no money for the wall, Trump vetoes it, then both the Senate and House have the votes to override his veto and end the shutdown.

    It’s clearly not going to happen, but what a great big middle finger it would be to Trump and his stupid wall!!

  16. James Pearce says:

    @al Ameda:

    I’m pretty sure that Trump has calculated that every day of shut down is a day that the new Democratic majority in the House has not convened to initiate new investigations.

    Donald Trump is the president the Democrats deserve.

    They could appropriate a little bit of money for “border security” and let Trump call the resulting fence a “wall” –laughing every single time– but Resistance type thinking can’t be resisted. Trump must be thwarted. The champions must be seen doing something heroic.

  17. de stijl says:

    There is a series of videos edited just to insert Gru saying “gorl” or “gorls”.

    You have not lived until you’ve seen “I Ain’t No Hollaback Gorl” or “Gorls Run The World.”

  18. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Donald Trump is the president the Democrats deserve.

    I would say that Trump is the president that any progressive Democrat who voted for Jill Stein instead of Hillary Clinton deserves. Yeah, that “both sides are the same” bullsh**? Well, that peurile bullsh** gave us Trump

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Pearce:

    @al Ameda:

    I’m pretty sure that Trump has calculated that every day of shut down is a day that the new Democratic majority in the House has not convened to initiate new investigations.

    Donald Trump is the president the Democrats deserve.

    They could appropriate a little bit of money for “border security” and let Trump call the resulting fence a “wall” –laughing every single time– but Resistance type thinking can’t be resisted. Trump must be thwarted. The champions must be seen doing something heroic.

    You are confused, aren’t you? The senate passed a continuing resolution funding the government till sometime in February with ~/$1.2B for border security. The House passed an otherwise identical continuing resolution, except the House version has $5B for the wall. This was done at Trump’s insistence. Normal order is the House and Senate negotiate the differences, except at this time no one knows what Trump will settle for and if that will change tomorrow.

    If you are going to troll, at least have a concept of what you’re talking about.

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @al Ameda:

    I would say that Trump is the president that any progressive Democrat who voted for Jill Stein instead of Hillary Clinton deserves.

    Regrettably, I voted for Hillary Clinton.

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Normal order is the House and Senate negotiate the differences, except at this time no one knows what Trump will settle for and if that will change tomorrow.

    “No one knows what Trump will settle for?” He’s going to settle for whatever allows him to brag about building a wall.

    You want to drive a wedge between him and his supporters? Let him brag about a “wall” that’s really a fence.

  21. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Regrettably, I voted for Hillary Clinton.

    I don’t regret my vote for HRC at all. To me, the primary reason to vote for anybody but Trump, Stein, Johnson, et al, was nominations to the Supreme Court. And yes, I hope the purists who voted for Stein rather than HRC are happy with Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and possibly (though we hope not) a successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  22. Scott O says:

    @James Pearce:

    They could appropriate a little bit of money for “border security” and let Trump call the resulting fence a “wall”

    The Democrats have already offered $1.3 billion, on Dec 10th.

  23. James Pearce says:

    @Scott O:

    The Democrats have already offered $1.3 billion, on Dec 10th.

    Yeah, and they sat there as Trump told them he’d be happy to close the government to get more and Pelosi/Schumer practically dared him to do it.

    And seriously, this whole situation could be resolved with a) no wall, b) no $5 billion in appropriations, or C) no government shutdown if we had half-competent negotiators who have a steely-eyed focus on policy and are less concerned with manipulating the newscycle to rally supporters.

    All you gotta do is let Trump save face. He’ll accept a “fence” in place of a wall and arguing about the costs at this point is rather ridiculous. (If he accepts the $1.3 billion figure, what makes you think it will actually cost $1.3 billion? If Dems are willing to budget $1.3, they’re willing to spend $5 and let’s not pretend they aren’t.)

    So we have a fake argument over a fake issue and it continues on this path because Trump is much, much better at politics than Congressional Democrats.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    All you gotta do is let Trump save face. He’ll accept a “fence” in place of a wall […]

    Not if FOX News tells him he’s being a pussy. That’s the part you don’t seem to get.

  25. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Not if FOX News tells him he’s being a pussy.

    So he’s a jellyfish prostrated before a TV channel, but congressional Dems in the 3rd decade of their political careers can’t out-maneuver him? That’s not a defense of the Dems; it’s an indictment.