Government Shutdown Continues as Bills are Rejected

Two rival bills were raised to the Senate for voting. Both failed. White House begins drafting a new proclamation to declare a national emergency.

The U.S. government shutdown is now in its 34th day. On January 24, 2019 two opposing bills were voted on and each could end the shutdown if passed.

The Republican-backed bill proposed temporary protections for some 700,000 Dreamers and 300,000 TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders, whose protections have been at risk since late 2017 when Trump attempted to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy. In exchange, Trump would receive the $5.7 billion to fund his border wall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously stated that this proposed deal was a “non-starter”. Senator Charles Schumer referred to the deal as “Bargaining for stolen goods”.

The Democrat-backed bill proposed no funding for a physical border wall but allowed for expenditure above $1.6 billion for improvements to border security. These would include drones, more border agents, more immigration judges, retrofitting border ports of entry, and more technology. Some Democrats even expressed the possibility of allocating the full $5.7 billion to what they called a “smart wall”.

Both bills were rejected by the senate due to a failure of either of them receiving the necessary 60 votes to pass. The GOP bill failed at 50–47 votes and the Democrat bill failed at 52–44 votes. Note that the Democratic Party’s proposed bill received more votes than the GOP’s in the Republican-controlled Senate.

This inability to come to an agreement and open the government will hit the 800,000 American citizens, who are no longer working due to the shutdown, the hardest as they miss their second paycheque on Friday, January 25. Many of these citizens have been forced to pawn precious items and to use food banks simply to pay bills and to survive.

In the wake of this impasse, it has been reported that the White House is drafting a proclamation to declare a state of emergency at the border, which could see over $7 billion and the US Army Corps of Engineers redirected to construct the wall.

It is highly likely that, in such event, the declaration will be challenged both in the courts and by Democrats in Congress. Many have argued that Trump cannot use the national emergency authority to free up taxpayer money to build a border wall, something which he repeatedly promised to do in his presidential campaign in 2016. However, Trump explicitly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, not the American taxpayers.

In the meantime, Trump has again raised the option of finding other ways to receive his border wall funding without congressional approval.

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