With deadline looming, White House warns of impending shutdown

February 8, 2019

President Donald Trump received flak from some of his most loyal supporters earlier this year when he decided to reopen the federal government without securing border all funding following a 35-day shutdown.

However, it is now exceptionally clear that the president never gave up on plans to halt the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S., and he is prepared to close the government again if that’s what it takes to convince Democrats to pay for a wall along the southern border.

Round two?

Democrats are sorely mistaken if they think Trump has given up on his strict border control plan, which includes a massive civil infrastructure project to build a 550 mile-long wall along the U.S.-Mexico line. During a Friday morning press conference, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley warned that another shutdown was imminent if Congress refuses to fund the wall.

“We’re on the verge of a government shutdown again because Democrats won’t come to the table to have a conversation about securing the country,” Gidley warned.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended on Jan. 22 without a deal to improve security along the southern border. Trump put congressional Democrats on notice, though, by establishing a Feb. 15 deadline to come back to the negotiating table or face another politically-damaging government closure.

Previously, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) refused to approve even a dime of the $5.7 billion the White House demanded to move forward with construction, and weeks of negotiations were unproductive. Democrats eventually agreed to supply $1.6 billion for border security, under the condition that none of these funds could go toward a barrier of any description.

The enemy within

But despite Dems being the ones who refused to come to the negotiating table, Trump lost the confidence of some of his constituents when he ended the partial government shutdown without guaranteeing the government dollars required to secure the border. The president argued at the time that he only reopened the government out of consideration for the hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal workers.

“I am very proud to announce that we have reached a deal today to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” the president explained. “After 36 days of spirited debate and dialogue, I have seen and heard from enough Democrats and Republicans that they are willing to put partisanship aside, I think, and put the security of the American people first.”

The decision invited vitriol and harsh condemnation from some unexpected sources, including longtime Trump surrogate and conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who tweeted on Jan. 25: “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush. As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”

Trump responded to the negative commentary with a tweet of his own, arguing that his executive decision was “in no way a concession.”

Standing firm

Now, however, the White House appears to be reaffirming its commitment to building the wall — no matter the consequences. During a Wednesday interview with CBS News, Vice President Mike Pence refused to dismiss the possibility that the government could close once again in the coming days.

Negotiations are ongoing between Democrats and Republicans, and conference committee members have publicly expressed optimism that a deal can be reached before the deadline. However, Pence’s comments are a reminder that the stakes are high when it comes to immigration control.

When the government was reopened in January, Trump reminded Congress that he reserved the authority to declare a national emergency and fund the wall by using the military. But this may not be the president’s preferred option, since going that route would undoubtedly invite months of legal battles prolonged by activist judges opposed to the White House.

In fact, Democrats like California Attorney General Xavier Becerra have already declared that they would take the administration to court if Trump declared a state of emergency. Indeed, the president would likely find himself facing multiple injunctions that would leave his border wall project in hiatus in the same manner that his travel ban and transgender military service restrictions were held up in court.

Still, with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, these partisan injunctions would almost certainly be reversed, allowing the president to move forward with his mandate to protect Americans and guarantee their sovereignty. Therefore, Democrats would be wise to consider playing ball to reach a negotiated solution with the White House — or risk watching the wall’s construction from the political sidelines.

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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.