Maryland congressional leaders said they are hopeful there can be a bipartisan deal reached to avoid a government shutdown by Saturday’s midnight deadline.
With just a short time before Saturday’s deadline, members of Congress and the president have yet to reach a deal that would fund the government. The only thing preventing a deal from being reached at this point are disagreements over funding for a wall on the Mexican border, a key campaign promise for President Donald J. Trump and a redline for Democrats.
While Trump has insisted that he would happily shut down the government if Congress refuses to allocate $5 billion for a border wall, Congressional leaders have said they are optimistic they will reach a deal.
“I just feel like cooler heads got to prevail. It would be a political nightmare for the Republicans,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8).
Raskin’s optimism was echoed by Democratic and Republican leadership with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying the Trump administration was flexible and he felt like a deal would be reached.
Yet, a deal has not been finalized thanks to one issue — the border wall.
Last week Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and likely choice for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Trump in the Oval Office for a public meeting on the shutdown. Neither side backed down from their positions, while Trump declared he would be “happy” to shut down the government over the issue of the border wall.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems — and drugs — pouring into our country,” Trump told Schumer in the meeting in the Oval Office last week.
While the president has said he would shut down the government of funding for the border wall, many Republican members of Congress have said they are not willing to not fund the government over it. While many Republicans have vocally supported the border wall, some have said they are not willing to furlough thousands of federal employees over the issue.
Democrats, on the other hand, have made a stand against the wall itself. While they have said it would be costly and ineffective, many Democrats also oppose the wall on symbolic grounds, saying they stand against what the wall would represent.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he supports border security as long as it is not a literally a concrete wall. Raskin agreed, saying that while they would support funding for radar, video surveillance and other security measures along the border, any funding that would support a literal wall would be too much for him.
“The wall is a 14th-century answer to a 21st-century problem,” Raskin said.” I mean, you may as well be building moats and alligators to go along with it. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
If the government were to shut down Saturday, it would be a partial shutdown, meaning many federal agencies such as the Transportation Security Agency, the U.S. Postal Service and the Social Security Administration would still run as normal.
However, if the government does shut down, agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the State Department will have their funding expire Dec. 21, meaning some workers will be furloughed.
Since Congress already agreed for funding for most government agencies, 75 percent of them, at the same levels as the previous year, only a fraction of the government is in jeopardy of being shut down.
“So, 75 percent of federal government funding has already been accomplished, on time,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).” So, we’re talking about 25 percent. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be disruptive; it would be terribly disruptive.”