Last Friday night President Donald Trump signed a bill to temporarily end the longest government shutdown in American history for three weeks. Following airport delays due to staff shortages and pressure from Republicans in Washington, the president has decided to pay the government workers who have been waiting on their paychecks. This 21-day break from the 34-day shutdown will leave the federal government open only until February 15, 2019. Then, just as the president tweeted, it’s “off to the races” if no deal for border security is done by that time.
So what happens next? It seems like every media outlet is declaring this as a massive victory for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats and Pelosi just stopped Trump and his wall! Right? Well, not necessarily. Trump still has two cards in his hands:
1) The next three weeks
If the negotiations over the next three weeks do not result in a wall – or barrier, I suppose – then Trump can start the shutdown all over again with help from Republicans in Congress. If their loyalty holds, this strategy could be used for a longer hold out. However, their loyalty is no longer a safe bet. Two Republican senators voted against the GOP proposal to reopen the government while six others voted in favor of the Democratic proposal. Regardless of if the Republicans in Congress will be with their president when the time comes, Trump will still be able to use this as leverage. Lawmakers are expected to hit the ground running to ensure that there will not be another shutdown. Will the president stand his ground once more? Well, he may not have to because of the second option he holds.
2) A declaration of national emergency
President Trump declaring a national emergency to build the wall could potentially set up the most important Supreme Court ruling on executive power since the George W. Bush administration. After making such a proclamation, there will not be many options for the Democrats outside of a lawsuit, as any action in Congress will likely fail. However, a case like this will almost certainly find its way to the Supreme Court.
Essentially, the show has barely begun
The 34-day shutdown will certainly go down in history, however, what’s to come has much more history-making potential. To Democrats Trump may have lost the battle, but they are aware of the greater war. Nobody should let the headlines persuade them. This is only the beginning.