Late last year, the nation was thrown into (further) chaos when President Donald Trump rejected a bipartisan appropriations bill and threw the federal government into what would become the longest (partial) shutdown in U.S. history. This week, Trump has occasionally hinted that an encore shutdown may not be off the table. So should we brace for another shutdown sh–show?
Not so fast. While anything is theoretically possible, there are reasons to believe Trump may really be folding again. Here’s why.
February 15 UPDATE
As expected, Trump will sign the appropriations bill today. In addition, he’s expected to declare a “national emergency” to raid other budget accounts in his latest attempt to build his long desired border wall. Multiple lawsuits may be filed to challenge such declaration once Trump signs it, and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) stated last night he will join one of those expected lawsuits if Trump diverts any of Nevada’s federal funding to the border wall. We’ll continue to track this story as it develops.
Reason #1: Trump got blamed for it.
It didn’t take long for Trump’s approval numbers to take a hit once the last shutdown began to take effect. Eventually, additional poll numbers would reveal that the rest of the Republican Party was suffering as well.
Trump’s numbers have just started to recover, he’s still very much underwater, and it remains to be seen whether he can win reelection while failing to expand his limited base of support. As the old saying goes, when one is already in the hole, one probably shouldn’t keep digging further down.
Reason #2: Trump’s “art of the deal” has met anything but critical praise.
Just before Trump threw the nation into his shutdown shitshow, he rejected the bipartisan budget compromise that already included $1.3 billion in annual “border security” funding. And not only did Trump reject that, but he even rejected another proposal from some Senate Democrats that would raise that funding level to $1.6 billion in the hope that a shutdown would force Democrats to give him $5 billion or more for his long-desired border wall. Yet instead of winning more wall money, Trump got nothing but a 35 day long shutdown that only ended when Trump relented.
Now, Trump’s complaining about the emerging bipartisan agreement that only includes $1.375 billion for “border fencing” rather than $5 billion or more for “The Wall”. That’s even less than the $1.6 billion worth of “fencing” that some Senate Democrats were willing to give Republicans last June.
However, he’s not promising another shutdown. Might that be due to him realizing that his “art of the deal” still hasn’t resulted in any new “big, beautiful wall”?
Reason #3: Another manufactured crisis won’t make of any of his real crises go away.
Despite last month’s shutdown, Robert Mueller continued his investigation into Donald Trump, his campaign, and the crimes associated with Trump’s operation. If Trump proceeds to shut down the government again, Mueller will continue his investigation, Mueller will probably continue to issue indictments, and House Democrats will still have the power to investigate Trump’s presidency and business dealings.
Despite Trump’s attempt to leverage media coverage of the shutdown into support for “The Wall”, immigrant rights activists continued to rail against the abuses of Trump’s deportation regime. And rather than giving into Trump’s demands, as he had hoped, Democrats largely stuck together and paid closer heed to what activists and experts consider to be the real shortcomings of America’s immigration system.
So when we look at all these and other parts of the big picture, we can see why Trump’s favorite TV pundits are giving him permission to “take the deal”, and why Trump himself may finally be relenting. Perhaps Trump will change his mind (yet again) and opt for another shutdown, or perhaps Trump will finally cut his losses and “take the deal”. We’ll have an even better sense of what becomes of this in about 36 hours, but so far I’m opting for the latter.