US Govt. Shutdown: Donald Trump Blinks First

And so it has happened. 

US President Donald Trump has backed down from his position that his government will continue in shutdown mode unless the Congress approved funding for his Mexican wall.

Trump on Friday brought the longest government shutdown in US history to a halt, dropping his insistence on the provision of funding for the construction of a wall on the US border with Mexico.

More than 800,000 US federal workers went without pay for the five weeks the shutdown lasted.

The Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill to end the shutdown on Friday and  Trump had signed it into law immediately, even though it didn’t contain his main wall request of over  $5 billion dollars.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House has laid the marker and she repeatedly told Trump ‘no wall’. 

Trump did not get his $5.7 billion in border wall funds but he has threatened another shutdown or a state of emergency, if he doesn’t get his wall money in the next three weeks.

Said he:

“Over the next 21 days, I expect that both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government either shuts down on February 15th again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier”.

And so the longest government shutdown in US history has ended. 

But what lesson have we learnt from it? Or specifically, what has Trump learnt from the shutdown which has negatively affected his approval ratings from the electorate?

He obviously thought that it would be business as usual and he could bully Congress, even though the Republicans lost control of the House to the Democrats during last year’s elections and the Democrats are showing they are enjoying the majority in the House.

In a democracy where there’s full separation of powers, the three arms of government must work together to ensure that their citizens’ interests are taken care of. No one arm should consider itself the most superior or all-knowing. 

The relationship must be symbiotic and in the general interest of all. 

There’s no doubt that many Federal workers suffered immensely without wages during the shutdown period. You can guess how happy they will be with the politicians right now when bills have piled up and there’s uncertainty ahead because Trump is still threatening another shutdown in 21 days.

Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse in the next round of executive/legislature battle. And there would be no other shutdown in the near future.

Our elders say it’s the ground that suffers when two elephants fight.

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Ogie Eboigbe, veteran journalist, broadcaster and public affairs specialist writes and analyses current and historical issues with a ‘wise pen’.

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