No End in Sight for Longest Shutdown in History

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Salisbury Township School District.

Editor’s Note: The shutdown ended shortly after this opinion piece’s submission. 

By Justin Burkhardt

The government shutdown has entered day 34, making it the longest shutdown in history by 12 days. The previous record for the longest shutdown occurred during Bill Clinton’s presidency. That one lasted from December 15, 1995, through January 6, 1996. There is no clear way out of it as of now.

Prior to Thursday, January 24th, negotiations between Democrats and the President had slowed down, with the President taking increasingly more “Presidential time” and Democrats focusing on beginning their oversight responsibilities. Democrats feel they have the superior political positioning, leading to them not giving any ground on the President’s demands for $5.7 billion dollars for a wall payment and increased border security measures. The President, entrenched by backlash from both sides following his unpopular compromise he proposed this past Sunday, feels he has to fulfill on his prolific campaign promise for the wall or else his base will lose faith.

However, not only is support from his base starting to slip, independents in large numbers are also becoming increasingly unfavorable towards the President. Trump’s disapproval among independents is at 60%, its highest ever. Meanwhile, 53% of the public blamed the White House and the President’s party for the shutdown, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week, 29% blamed the Democrats and 13% said a combination of the two. Trump’s approval rating in the month of January stands at 37% approve and 57% disapprove, down from his average of 41% approve and 51% disapprove in late November to early December (pre-shutdown), according to a new CNN Poll of Polls released Wednesday.

Even more worrisome for the White House is the splintering off of key Republican Senators following the two votes that went up in the Senate on Thursday. The vote for House-passed clean C.R., which has no funding for the wall, provided disaster relief and would simply reopen government till February 7th, received 52 votes for, and 44 votes against. Six Republicans voted for the Democratic-backed proposal: Senators Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Lisa Murkowski, Johnny Isakson and Mitt Romney. The President’s proposal the final vote tally for the GOP backed proposal was 50-47, with multiple defections from both sides Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted yes on the Trump shut down the proposal, as he had said he would. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton voted no, as did Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican.

With support beginning to slip for the President, the Democrats feeling more emboldened than ever, there truly is no end in sight for this shutdown. The White House has reportedly begun research into the effects of the shutdown if it were to last until March / April. They have also begun drafting executive action (including declaring a national emergency) plans if they need to go around Congress to get the funding, according to CNN. Furthermore, a string of tone-deaf comments from senior administration officials such as Wilbur Ross have also added fuel to the fire in the shutdown fight.

Hopefully, a reasonable solution can be found by our leaders so the 800,000 federal workers can get back to work and our country can go back to functioning properly before things start to get worse than they already are.