Donald Trump yesterday said that the partial shutdown of the federal government will last until Congress gives in to his demand for money to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Speaking to reporters the president said that the government is “not going to reopen until we have a wall.”
The U.S. government partially shut down at midnight on Friday, and since then there has not been any sign of effort by either side to resolve the dispute. Congress did pass legislation last week for the president to sign into law but at the last minute, after urging by right-wing media personalities, he changed his mind and said no bill would be passed without $5 billion of funding for his wall.
Approximately one fourth of the U.S. government is in its fifth day of the shutdown, and approximately 800,000 federal employees are affected. Many will not be paid during the Christmas holiday, causing them financial stress.
Global stock markets have crashed over the past week and Trump’s shutdown is seen as one of the causes. But the federal agencies won’t re-open until the political impasse over Trump’s demand for border wall funds is resolved.
In remarks to reporters after a Christmas Day video conference with US troops Trump said:
“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen. I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs.”
“If you don’t have the wall, then we’re just not opening.”
Trump also said that thousands of workers being furloughed due to the shutdown want the wall to be built.
“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall,” Trump told reporters.
But his claim conflicts with the accounts of federal workers’ union leaders. For example, Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said:
“Federal employees should not have to pay the personal price for all of this dysfunction. This shutdown is a travesty. Congress and the White House have not done their fundamental jobs of keeping the government open.”
The truth is that the shutdown has been caused by disagreements among Republicans who still control all branches of the federal government. Trump‘s demands are just more political posturing, and show that he is a weak leader, unable to get anything done. After Democrats take control of the House on January 3rd we can expect this situation to get only worse.