Now he’s got another historic notch on his belt, the longest-ever government shutdown — an impasse that marks a new low for Washington dysfunction.
The dispute triggered by Trump’s demands for billions of dollars to finally make good on an unfulfilled campaign promise — to build a border wall — began so long ago that Republicans had a monopoly on Washington power. The Democratic takeover of the House has deepened the disconnect, and with neither side willing to fold, nearly 22 days in, there is still no end in sight.
Since Trump crowed he would be “proud” to shutter the government over the wall, he gets to shoulder much of the blame for a crisis that is the inevitable result when the nation’s political polarization is institutionalized in Washington.
The last three weeks have exposed the lack of empathy of a billionaire President who shrugs off the struggles of federal workers who work paycheck to paycheck. Trump is clearly more concerned about a pet political project than his constitutional role of providing governance to all Americans.
But he is not alone in his dereliction of duty. The Republican-led Senate is doing nothing to offer its President a face saving way out. And while House Democrats are going through the motions of passing bills to reopen government, they don’t seem to be doing much else to break the logjam. Before Trump was President, party leaders had seemed at least open to funding a barrier on the border as part of wider immigration legislation.
Trump urged party leaders Friday to return to Washington and vote for a wall, a barrier or whatever they want to call it — even “peaches.”
“This is where I ask the Democrats to come back to Washington and to vote for money for the wall, the barrier, whatever you want to call it, it’s OK with me,” the President said during a White House roundtable on immigration.
“They can name it whatever. They can name it ‘peaches.’ I don’t care what they name it. But we need money for that barrier,” he added.
The stalemate represents a crucial first fight between Trump and his Democratic enemies in Washington’s new era of divided government.
But every battle has victims. And right now it’s 800,000 government workers who feel insulted, forgotten and anxious about rent, mortgage, car payment and medical bills piling up.
While they fret, nothing is happening in Washington this weekend. In fact, members of Congress, who are getting paid, are off until Monday.
They might notice as they fly home that the nation’s transportation system is under strain. Many of those TSA agents who keep travelers safe are working without pay. An airport in Tampa is opening a food bank for employees. And some food inspections are on hold with government shut down.
“I would beg both Houses of Congress, I would beg the American people to please look around and understand that federal workers, we have a face — we have families,” Jacqueline Maloney, a federal worker whose paycheck didn’t arrive on Friday, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin in an emotional interview.
“We might be a neighbor, your best friend, your best friend’s mom, your aunt, your cousin. We are everywhere.”
Government shutdowns usually end when the political leaders caught in the standoff calculate that the political damage sustained by standing firm begins to…