POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Shutdown Day 19: President and congressional leaders fail to compromise

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Did President Donald Trump’s curiously low-key Oval Office speech convince Americans there’s a crisis on the southern border and that it’s up to Democrats to end the 19 day government shutdown by providing $5.7 billion to build his wall?

“To secure the border and stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers. It’s a tremendous problem,” Trump said on Tuesday night. “The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”

Trump’s nine minute speech offered no new arguments. Democrats, meanwhile, similarly doubled down on their opposition during an awkwardly-staged rebuttal.

“Sadly, much of what we heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Seton Hall political analyst Matt Hale cites recent polls showing about a third of Americans support Trump and blame the shutdown on Congressional Democrats.

“He was playing to his base, and I think he did a good job of playing to his base,” Hale said. “It’s a different type of politics. The authenticity of carrying through on your promises seems to be all he cares about, regardless of whether or not it makes practical sense, fiscal sense or border control sense. The most important thing is, he said he was going to do it and he’s going to fight to continue to do it.”

Chairman of Cumberland County Regular Republican Organization Michael Testa called Trump’s speech “presidential.”

“I would like to see a border wall, and then the government obviously to reopen,” Testa said. “Schumer and Pelosi and their ilk are preventing the government from reopening. They should give the president what he wants.”

But Democrats like Rep. Frank Pallone tweeted, ” … the president has blamed immigrants for our nation’s challenges while promising an expensive, wasteful and unnecessary wall.”

“Trump said NOTHING in this address to justify holding 800,000 federal workers hostage. These hardworking public servants, their families and the American people deserve better,” Sen. Bob Menendez tweeted.

But Wednesday Trump claimed that workers who aren’t getting paid support him on social media.

“So many of those people are saying, ‘It’s very hard for me, it’s very hard for my family, but Mr. President, you’re doing the right thing. Get it done,'” Trump said.

Trump met briefly with congressional leaders, but tweeted it was ” … a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”

“He just walked out,” Schumer said. “Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way, and he just walked out of the meeting.”

If both sides can’t agree, the president says he has the right to declare a national state of emergency to procure funding for his wall. Democrats say such a maneuver would end up in court.