Trump approval rating drops amid Christmas season shutdown
After federal funding expired for one-fourth of the U.S. government on Saturday Dec. 22, which triggered a partial government shutdown, 25 percent of the country’s federal workforce remains in limbo.
The third shutdown of the Trump administration began when negotiations between top Democrats in Congress and the administration concerning Trump’s $5 billion border wall yielded no agreements. So far, the shutdown dragged through to Christmas and is likely to spill into the New Year.
As of press time, there is no end in sight for the shutdown. Trump’s incoming chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News that “it is very possible that the shutdown will go beyond the 28th [of December]” and is expected to trickle down into the new Congress.
This shutdown — which went underway during the holiday season — has affected and continues to affect certain public programs. Although the heads of agencies assure that despite the shutdown, offices that oversee public health and nutrition assistance, will continue “business as usual.”
Amid the shutdown, things in the Trump White House were not going business as usual. While he wished overseas troops a Merry Christmas from the comfort of the Oval Office, Trump became the first president since 2002 to not visit the troops during the holiday season.
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” the president said, referencing the shutdown which he preemptively claimed responsibility for in a televised meeting with congressional Democrats.
“But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas,” he added.
With no resolution in sight, on Friday, Dec. 28, the increasingly frazzled president threatened to close the entire U.S.-Mexico border and seize aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — countries from which many of the migrant caravaners traveled — if Democrats don’t give him the billions of dollars for the border wall.
In a tweet storm, Trump said: “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with.”
He also claimed that those three Central American countries “are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money,” but provided no facts to back up the statement.
Origins of the shutdown
Like the almost-government shutdown back in January, this shutdown was a result of congressional Democrats not coming to an agreement with the Trump administration for the border wall.
Before the wall is to be built, Trump needs federal funding and, for that, he needs confirmation from Congress. Democrats in Congress have strongly opposed the building of the wall since Trump — who proudly and repeatedly promised on the campaign trail that “Mexico will pay for the wall” — was elected into office.
In a televised meeting in the Oval Office with House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Trump said that would be “proud to shut down the government” to get funding for the wall.
“I am proud to shutdown the government for border security,” Trump said during a tense argument with Schumer and Pelosi as cameras rolled before the leaders’ Oval Office meeting. Later, he added: “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other … I will shutdown the government, absolutely.”
On Thursday, Dec. 27 — the sixth day of the shutdown — the president tweeted, “Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country. Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”
In response, Pelosi said that Trump’s “scare tactics” lack evidence, saying, “He talked about terrorists coming in over that particular border, which wasn’t so. He talked about people bringing in diseases and all the rest of that, which wasn’t so.”
Who is affected by the Christmas shutdown?
The partial shutdown affected 25 percent of the federal workforce. Despite assurances from the Trump administration that public programs would continue “business as usual” some key subsistence programs have already been affected.
And the longer the shutdown continues, the more employees would be furloughed.
In the Department of Agriculture (DOA), 61 percent of employees would still be working through the first week, but that number is set to decrease as the shutdown wears on.
Staff in the DOA’s key offices — the nation’s largest hunger safety net Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) — have been cut by 95 percent by the fifth day of the shutdown.
Also affected is the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), which means that roughly 20 million small businesses across the country could face revenue losses and restricted access to loans.
“Due to the lapse of government funding, SBA will remain inactive until further notice. We apologize for any inconveniences and we look forward to assisting you when we return,” the agency posted to their official Facebook page. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)