The deal President Donald Trump struck with top Congressional Democrats announced Friday will fund the federal government through February 15. Does that mean another shutdown could happen in three weeks? Trump seems prepared for that.
During a news conference in the Rose Garden Friday afternoon, Trump urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get him a deal by Feb. 15 that fully funds the government and, most critically for him, one that includes border wall funding. If it doesn’t, Trump eluded, there is still the possibility that he declares a national emergency to get the $5.7 billion he’s requesting.
“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said.
Lara Brown, the director of the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University, believes there will be a hefty legal battle for the Trump administration if a national emergency is declared on the Southern border to begin constructing the wall.
“There is a reality that this would end up in the courts immediately, so there would likely be some sort of stay in any action,” Brown said. “There is this other side about what is the purpose of a national emergency and to try to actually justify that.”
The deal reached Friday is sort of an exit ramp for both sides following a record-long 35-day partial government shutdown that has left 800,000 federal employees and contractors furloughed or working without pay. Democrats wanted the government open and then they pledged to discuss border security. That’s what the President is counting on now.
Several Democratic U.S. Senators have told WENY News throughout the shutdown they feel the wall is ineffective and that they wouldn’t support funding for it. Funding for the proposed border wall, a top promise during Trump's 2016 campaign, has been main sticking point during what has become the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
“We should not confuse effective border security with the ‘wall’ or ‘steel slats’,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said on Jan. 9.
“While the debate continues on border security, we need to pass a bill to fully fund all government operations through the end of the fiscal year,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a statement Friday following the deal. “Come February 15th, there cannot be another government shutdown.”
Republicans also appeared to be at odds with funding the wall during Thursday’s pair of failed votes to reopen the federal government. More senators supported the Democrat-backed short-term spending plan than the plan proposed by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and backed by Trump, and that’s in the Republican-controlled Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has previously said she won’t support any substantial border wall funding. That leaves Trump and McConnell with some tough negotiations ahead of that Feb. 15 deadline.