donald trump senate shutdown vote

What to Know About the Partial Government Shutdown Mess & Donald Trump’s Angry Ego

This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

If you’ve been struggling to keep up with the status of the potential partial government shutdown slated for today, you’re not alone. Donald Trump’s indecision on the matter has meant that now, at the 11th hour, we still don’t know if we’ll have a functioning government through the rest of the year and possibly beyond.

All of this is hinging on Trump’s border wall and his insistence that lawmakers pass a $5 billion spending bill funding that wall. Earlier this week, Trump seemed to back down from that demand, and looked willing to sign a Senate-passed short-term bill (which included no money for the wall) to keep the government at least partially open into February.

Then yesterday, he suddenly flipped back from that flop and demanded that $5 billion again. (Could he possibly have been looking for a distraction from something? Like the fact that his Secretary of Defense, dubbed the “last adult in the room” had quit with a fairly humiliating resignation letter? Hmmm.)

The House passed the bill but it’s unlikely to pass in the Senate, so Trump is, of course, blaming Democrats for the shutdown he has promised will come if he doesn’t get this funding.

His attempt to brand this as a “Democrat shutdown” isn’t going over well–not after his meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi last week where he fully accepted responsibility for the shutdown. He said he would be “proud” to own that responsibility. We know this, by the way, because he tried to ambush Schumer and Pelosi with press in what they expected to be a closed-door meeting. Trump just handed everyone the receipts on his own nonsense.

“I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not gonna blame you for it,” he said. I mean, it’s not like anyone believed him, but he still said those words.

For a few days, it seemed like Trump was going to let the whole wall thing go. After a campaign centered on getting his base to chant “BUILD THE WALL” and nearly two years of continuing to insist the wall is coming, and at Mexico’s expense, he suddenly doesn’t get why everybody’s talking about the wall so much.

So that temporary spending bill passed the Senate and it looked like a shutdown was going to be averted. And then Trump’s actual favorite show Fox & Friends ran coverage railing about how Trump “lost” to the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi won and that, possibly compounded with Mattis’ resignation, seems to have pushed Trump’s ego over the edge. He went on a bragging spree on Twitter, attempting to dominate Pelosi.

So that’s where we are now. As of writing this, the Senate is still voting, but without Democrats onboard, it’s not likely that Trump will get his $5 billion dollars and a partial shutdown is all but guaranteed.

It’s hard to see this vote and the threat of shutdown as having to do with anything but Trump’s ego. The money he’s demanding appears to be an arbitrary number–it’s not clear what $5 billion would cover for a project that is estimated to cost anywhere between $18 and $70 billion. That’s a heck of a wide range, but it makes sense since the Trump administration hasn’t completed their specifications, including what the barrier would even be made of. Earlier this week, they started pushing the idea of “steel slats,” apparently attempting to rebrand the increasingly unpopular wall.

This fantastic, brief speech from Congressman Tim Ryan completely nails the hollowness of the promise of the wall. From Trump’s broken promises that it won’t cost American taxpayers a cent to the very idea that it would even increase security, he says it all perfectly.

So what does a partial government shutdown mean? We may feel the impact–certain services in the national parks department may close, so if you’re planning a trip to a park or landmark (like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty), you may want a contingency plan for your vacation. The FDA could reduce its number of inspections, and given the number of recalled foods we’ve seen this year, that’s a little worrisome.

But the real impact will be on government workers, many of whom will be able to keep working, but won’t get their paychecks until after the government reopens. And given that 78% of American workers report living paycheck to paycheck, waiting months to get paid isn’t a luxury most can afford. Add in the fact that this is happening over the holidays and this is an inexcusable abuse of Trump’s power, all to serve his own bruised ego.

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.