On December 22, the longest shutdown in history was triggered after House Democrats refused to agree to give President Donald Trump $5.7 billion to fund his long-promised wall along the southern border the U.S. shares with Mexico. The 35-day shutdown left almost a million federal employees working without pay or furloughed as multiple government agencies were hit by the shutdown.
The impasse finally ended at the end of January, with Trump and Congress agreeing to temporarily reopen government while they continued negotiations. That deadline for the temporary reopening is fast approaching on February 15, but it seems as if a different agreement may have been reached instead.
According to the Washington Times, Trump is prepared to build the wall with or without the help of Congress, saying he has “made his point with the last shutdown” and adding that “People realized how bad the border is, how unsafe the border is.”
In the meantime, Congress has agreed to give Trump $1.3 billion — just a fraction of the amount the president was demanding — which he is now prepared to accept, despite not being thrilled about it. Regardless, signing the deal will avoid another government shutdown.
Despite originally claiming he would be proud to take responsibility for the shutdown early in December, the moment it was triggered he pointed the finger at Democrats for refusing to provide the funding he needed. Polls taken throughout the shutdown showed that most people blamed Trump for it.
“I don’t want to see a shutdown, a shutdown would be a terrible thing,” the president said during a Wednesday Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque. “I don’t want to see another one, there’s no reason for it.”
Instead, Trump plans to look at shifting money around in other departments to scrounge together the change to make up the difference. He has already said on numerous occasions that he’s building the wall even if he doesn’t get the approval from Congress.
“When people see what we’re doing, I think they’ll be very surprised,” Trump said. “We’re doing a lot of work. We’re giving out contracts right now. We have options that most people don’t really understand.”
Democrats are not happy about this option being continually threatened, with many pointing out the illegality of this course of action.
“He needs congressional permission to do it,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “He doesn’t have the authority to do it without House permission.”
Republicans have taken a very different view of things, arguing that the president has “some flexibility” when it comes to “transfer authority” to shuffle already approved funds. One of the other options the president says he has is to call a state of emergency to force the funding.