Trump walks out of crucial meeting

President Donald Trump abruptly walked out of a White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on border security, escalating a bitter stand-off in Washington. The partial federal government shutdown entered its 19th day without an end in sight.

Background

A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass or the President fails to sign appropriations legislation funding federal government operations and agencies. Since 1976, when the current budget and appropriations process was enacted, there have been twenty gaps in budget funding, eight of which led to federal employees being furloughed.

The ongoing shutdown started on 22 December 2018 after the Democrats refused to include funds for President Trump’s border in the continuing resolution to pay for the operations of the Federal Government.

Analysis

Congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, returned to the White House for more talks on the president’s call for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

However, the afternoon devolved into partisan bickering and accusation-hurling after both sides refused to cede ground on their positions. On Twitter, Mr Trump confirmed he had cut the meeting short, declaring it “a total waste of time”.

The failed meeting came hours after Mr Trump reiterated that he had the executive power to declare a national emergency to secure funding for his border barrier. “I have the absolute right to do a national emergency if I want . . . My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable,” he said.

If the shutdown continues through the weekend, it would become the longest US government shutdown on record.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the government shutdown is a demonstration of strengths from both President Trump and the House Democrats who are unwilling to compromise on their demands. We believe that suspending essential public services for the purpose of scoring political points or fulfilling campaign promises is not a responsible course of action for a government.