Trump backs down, agrees to temporarily end government shutdown
By Arul Louis
New York, Jan 26 (IANS) President Donald Trump announced on Friday an agreement to end the partial government shutdown for three weeks, backing down from his defiant stand against allowing a budget without funding for his election promise of a wall along the Mexican border to deter smugglers and illegal immigrants.
On the 35th day of the partial shutdown with 800,000 government employees missing their second fortnightly paycheck, Trump folded under intensifying pressure from a strong Democratic Party opposition in Congress. He agreed to temporary funding to keep the government open till February 15 to hammer out a compromise. But he held out the threat of using his emergency powers under the constitution to bypass the legislature if he was not given funding for the border barrier. Speaking at the White House, he also warned that he could shutdown the government again if a deal was not made. While speaking out against the illegal immigration, he reiterated that he was for legal immigration that is needed for the economy with more industries returning to the US for his Make in America programme. He said that he was for reforming the immigration system to make it merit-based, adding, "We need more people coming into the country." The agreement to reopen the government is a big come down for Trump who had threatened to keep the shutdown going for months if not years. He recast the border wall, which had the image in his campaign of a tall concrete structure, into a high-tech-backed barrier with some stretches of a see-through steel fence. The turnabout could be a face-saver if the Democrats give him only high-tech security instead of a conventional barrier. Some Democrats have been working on proposals to provide him added funds in the budget for border security than can be used for high-tech defences but not a wall. In the November mid-term election the House of Representatives fell firmly into the hands of the Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a tough and determined leader, who stood up to Trump. Trump's expectation that the Democrats would fold backfired when he, rather than the Democrats, was widely perceived to be the cause of the shutdown. The first signs of Trump wilting came on Wednesday when he agreed to Pelosi's demand to delay the State of the Union Address after having taunted her for several days. On Thursday, six of his party's senators crossed the floor to vote for a Democratic Party resolution to end the shutdown - although that another Republican Party resolution also failed to get a majority. Last Saturday, he offered temporary reprieve from deportation for some categories of illegal immigrants in exchange for the wall, but it was rejected by the Democrats. The government shutdown crisis came about because Trump stuck firmly to his demand for the $5.7 billion to be included in the budge to build the border wall to deter smugglers and illegal immigrants, while the Democrats opposed it with equal vehemence. As a result the country does not have a budget since December 22 resulting in a shutdown of all but the essential government services. (Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org) --IANS al/vin/
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