With the government shutdown heading into the ninth day on Sunday — making it the ninth-longest of the 21 federal government shutdowns since 1976 — Donald Trump and his administration continue to blame Democrats and specifically incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the debacle. On December 11, Trump told Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that he would be “proud” to shut down the government, Politico recounted, promising the Democrats, “I’m going to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you.”
But not only has Trump blamed Democrats for the shutdown, in a Saturday Twitter message, he also blamed Democrats for the deaths of two young children being held in U.S. custody at the border, saying, “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies.”
Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, on Saturday, also sought to blame Pelosi for the shutdown, which began when Trump rejected a temporary spending bill unanimously passed by the Senate, as Vox recounted.
“This all comes down to Mrs. Pelosi’s speakership,” Mulvaney said, according to The Hill, even though Pelosi is not yet House Speaker. In fact, Republican Paul Ryan has remained speaker throughout the shutdown.
But Republican strategists say that Trump is playing a losing game by refusing to end the government shutdown, saying that Trump is simply attempting to excite his base voters at the expense of the rest of the country, according to the Washington Post.
“He’s trapped,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy told the Washington Post. “He’s playing poker holding two threes and suddenly putting all of his chips in. It’s pure emotion, the mark of a panicking amateur.”
Murphy added that Trump’s stubborn refusal to reopen the government shows that since the midterm elections, he is “learning nothing from November and playing to the third of the country that he already has.”
Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who will retire at the end of the year, also accused Trump of using the shutdown as a campaign tactic to solidify support from his base, according to The Guardian, blasting Trump’s stance on the shutdown as “puerile.”
“This is a made-up fight so the president can look like he’s fighting,” Corker said in a CNN interview, quoted by The Guardian. “This is something that is useless, it’s spectacle, it’s puerile.”