Since the 2016 election, President Trump’s role as a politician has been defined by one promise he made to his base of supporters; a wall on the southern border. The border wall has been a highly controversial topic, leading to many contentious debates and meetings between leading Democrats and Republicans. This issue has only grown more polarized since the beginning of 2019, when the government entered a shutdown.
The shutdown occurred because in order to start official construction on the wall in the new year, the president requested that $5 billion be included in the new spending bill, which is necessary to keep the government running. But this money was not included in the proposal that passed the Senate at the end of December. Although the Democrats explained that they had drafted a plan that would work towards a compromise on the issue, the president made it clear that he would refuse to compromise if the plan put forward did not include funding for his border wall. So, since the spending bill for the new year did not pass, the government went into a shutdown on December 22nd at 12:01 AM.
This shutdown lasted 35 days, ending on January 25th. This made it the longest US government shutdown in American history. And due to how long the shutdown lasted, millions of federal workers were greatly affected. According to The New York Times, on December 28th, the Environmental Protection Agency ran out of funds and was forced to furlough 95% of their employees. Then on January 4th, hundreds of TSA workers began calling in sick, rather than go into work without pay. By the end of the shutdown, federal workers had missed two of their paychecks, which averages at about $500 for weekly take-home pay.
The shutdown’s effects have led many to question the president’s priorities for this country. When Justino Passalacqua, a Brooklyn Tech senior, was asked whether or not his support of the president had changed since the shutdown, he was clear that it had not. Passalacqua stated, “What I took away the most from the government shutdown was the poor state of bipartisanship in America right now. I believe that a fair deal was offered by President Trump in $5.7 billion dollars in border wall funding in exchange for DACA protection. The government shutdown didn’t change my view on the President but rather on Congress.”
Although the government shutdown ended with no plan to begin official construction on the border wall, Trump has recently declared a national emergency at the border. Many politicians see this as a last ditch effort to get funding for the border wall. When Passalacqua was asked whether or not he believed there was a national emergency at the border, he stated, “No, I don’t agree with the President that there is a national emergency at our southern border. Most data suggests that most illegal immigrants came in to the United States through legal points of entry.”