Shutdown at expense of citizens

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump promised his supporters that he would have a wall built along the southern border to increase security. As evident by the government shutdown, he is dead set on fulfilling this promise, but the action he has taken has come at the expense of the American people.

Trump has continued to insist on the necessity of a wall, despite little evidence that such a wall would be effective. According to the Center for Migration Studies, the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has consistently fallen each year since 2008. Furthermore, 66 percent of the undocumented population that entered the U.S. in 2014 were people who overstayed their visas, an issue that a massive wall will not solve.  

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has referred to the wall as “a metaphor for border security,” but it seems irrational to spend billions of dollars on a project if its primary function is figurative. Though Trump’s insistence on a wall is likely due to his desire to follow through with his campaign promises to keep the support of his base, if he were really set on consistency, Congress wouldn’t even have to worry about funding the wall—he would maintain his promise that Mexico would pay for it (though he now claims that he never said this).

Though he has taken to Twitter to blame the Democrats, Trump’s failure to compromise is largely responsible for the shutdown, and his speech two weeks ago shows that he has no intentions of giving in. But regardless of one’s opinions on who is to blame, both sides need to come to terms with the fact that ending the shutdown should be a priority, even if it means having make sacrifices. The health and safety of the American people should come before making a partisan statement.

In the crossfire of the conflict, the American people are suffering the consequences, something that administration was clearly unprepared to deal with at the onset of the shutdown. While the situation continues, 800,000 federal employees are either being required to work without pay or are being furloughed.

Programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program don’t have funding approved, which will have major consequences for people who rely on food stamps to eat. The lack of funding for the National Park Service has allowed unsupervised visitors to trash many parks.

Trump has displayed pride in his actions, stating that he is willing to keep the shutdown going for “months or even years.” It is one thing to refuse to compromise, but when this stubbornness comes at the expense of the people whom he is supposed to be protecting, his personal agenda needs to take a backseat.

Even without the president’s approval, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the power to potentially end the shutdown by having the Senate vote on a spending bill. Trump could veto the bill, but this could be overridden with a two-thirds majority vote in Congress. Though this outcome is unlikely, McConnell’s failure to even introduce the bill to the Senate shows his desire to protect his party’s interests above the interests of the nation.

The partisan fighting needs to stop, and Trump needs to realize that ending the shutdown should be the first priority.