Week In Politics: Longest Government Shutdown In U.S. History


And let’s move from personal effects of that shutdown to some of the political ones. Ron Elving, NPR senior editor-correspondent – Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Does the president have an exit plan for the shutdown?

ELVING: At this moment, no such plan is apparent. The president says that if the Democrats don’t give him his wall, he can declare a national emergency. And then he says he can assert the power to build a wall using military construction funds already appropriated for other jobs, perhaps including disaster relief funds for rebuilding areas that have been hit by hurricanes. Now, on Friday, the president explicitly said he was not ready to do this yet, but he hasn’t ruled it out. It is, of course, controversial. Conservatives have not liked this in the past. Some of the people in the Senate who would certainly fit in that category, supporters of the president, have urged him not to do it. But some of his allies in the Capitol and back in the conservative media are saying the emergency looks like the only way out.

SIMON: Just a few weeks ago – and, of course, this is all on audio and video – the president in the Oval Office told Senator Schumer he’ll take the blame for any shutdown. Since then, of course, he’s tried to shift it over to Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer, but who will wind up owning this politically?

ELVING: A shutdown covers no one with glory, Scott, and surely some Americans will accept the shift of blame, as you described it. But let’s review the actual action from this past week. The Democratic-led House is passing bills that would reopen the government, the departments that are not open now, one at a time. And they’ve even had some help on those votes from some of the House Republicans – just a handful basically. But those bills are frozen in the Republican Senate because, there, the party leaders refuse to vote on them at all…

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