by Lindsay Price
On Jan. 25, the federal government reopened after a 35-day shutdown. The closure was the longest in American history. President Donald Trump sought funding for a wall along the southern border, leading to 800,000 federal employees going without pay. Democrats in the House of Representatives would not allocate the requested $5.7 billion, with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi condemning the wall as “immoral.”
With both parties at an ideological impasse, Trump decided to reopen the government for three weeks to negotiate a long-term solution to immigration. However, if Democrats and Republicans cannot reach an accord by Feb. 15, the government could face another shutdown. The College Republicans and the College Democrats at UT expressed differing viewpoints on outcome of the shutdown, mirroring the disparities between their parties at large.
Kevin O’Hare, president of the College Democrats, expressed displeasure with the recurring issue of government shutdowns. He condemned Trump’s actions during the most recent government shut down and called for politicians to reject his platform.
“I am happy the shutdown has ended, but the length and duration of this shutdown is a testament to President Trump’s inability to fulfill basic fundamentals of government operations,” said O’Hare. “Unlike his business ventures, you can’t get away with not paying Government Employees for 34 days. We will see how further debates pan out, but President Trump should be ashamed for his unapologetic use of government workers as pawns in his game of checkers with Speaker Pelosi. Unfortunately while the President is playing checkers, Speaker Pelosi is playing Chess.”
Lindsey Dickerson, president of the College Republicans, designated blame to both parties, and voiced concern that the ideological separation would worsen over time. She explained that recent events exemplified the extent of a deepening divide in Washington.
“Regardless of what your political partisanship may be, I think we can all agree that the shutdown saw both sides of the aisle weaponize and hold the Federal worker hostage,” said Dickerson. “Now that President Trump has signed the continuing resolution which will temporarily reopen the government for the next few weeks, my worry is that Congress will continue to talk past each other and we will wind up in the same predicament all over again.”
With the possibility of another shutdown looming, Democrats and Republicans must determine the next appropriate course of action. O’Hare called for government officials to have a conversation on controlling government spending, ending shutdowns and tackling the growing debt, which is nearing 22 trillion dollars. He believes that the GOP government’s tax cuts prior to the 2018 election moved the country away from tackling the issue.
“Every time we don’t make a payment, we risk everything from national security to food security,” said O’Hare. “Donald Trump in his business practices got away with smooth-talking banks and using his father’s wealth to back his excessive business borrowing and spending. In Government, we have obligations to pay our debts and pay our employees and pay out our benefits.”
Dickerson acknowledged that the present situation is difficult to reconcile, with the President seeking to implement his agenda and the new House leaders disagreeing with his policies. She proposed that Congress and the President seek to find common ground, especially with Trump campaigning for re-election soon.
“I am less concerned about another shutdown as I am President Trump declaring a national emergency to fund the border wall. I do not believe that is the wisest move he could make regarding the issue with the southern border,” said Dickerson. “I know a lot of my conservative friends and family would disagree with that statement, but I see that move as an overreach in his authority. Working with, or even attempting to work with, Congress to find some amicable ground to move ahead with his agenda would be more becoming of the president.”
Dickerson surmised that if the political parties continue to be at a stalemate, then state governments will play a greater role in citizens’ lives to compensate for the gridlock in the federal government.
President Trump has not ruled out the possibility of another shutdown this month, so it remains to be seen how the standoff will be resolved.
Lindsay Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org