In what he touted as a “major announcement,” Donald Trump went on TV live from the White House Saturday afternoon, proposing a new deal to end the 29-day government shutdown that was deemed dead on arrival by Democrats even before the president made his speech.
The proposal, laid out during a 20-minute announcement that is the president’s latest effort to end the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history, entails $5.7 billion in funding for a physical barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for three years of “legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients” and an extension of the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.
Additionally, Trump proposed granting hundreds of millions of dollars delegated for humanitarian assistance and called for thousands of new law enforcement agents to be stationed at the border.
In framing his argument, Trump spent the first half of his announcement painting a dark picture of immigration in America casting the problem as a “humanitarian crisis,” while claiming that young children were being “exploited” and women were being sexually assaulted.
“This is a common-sense compromise both parties should embrace,” Trump said. “The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen,” he said, adding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will bring the bill up for a vote next week.
Prior to the announcement on Saturday afternoon, Democratic leaders said that the newest offer from the administration was insufficient and that they wanted President Trump to reopen the government prior to continuing negotiations about the border.
“Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said before the announcement. “For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”
“The President has taken pride in shutting down government,” Pelosi added. “Now, he must take action to open up government.”
Part of the Democrats’ rationale for rejecting the deal stems from the fact that the president rejected an offer early last year which would have granted $25 billion in border funding in exchange for a permanent path to citizenship for DREAMers.
What’s more is that two days ago, Trump suddenly canceled a planned international trip in which Pelosi was set to visit Brussels and Afghanistan with a congressional delegation, leaving members stranded on a bus on Capitol Hill.
“I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi, with his stated reason being that the government remains shut down. “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.” Though, it appeared as though the president was looking for a retaliatory measure following Pelosi informing him that his State of the Union address would be postponed until the shutdown was resolved.
“The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines,” Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker Pelosi, said.
Around 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay since the shutdown began.