Another Shutdown? Clues from the President’s Speech

Will there be another shutdown? Federal employees, and probably most Americans, would prefer an agreement and moving on. Here are clues from the State of the Union speech.

Federal employees watching President Trump’s State of the Union Address may have been hoping for a definitive answer on the question of whether there will be another government shutdown. If so, they were disappointed.

Overall, the speech called for unity and working together in order to accomplish great things. There was considerable enthusiasm in the Chamber for the speech, particularly among Republicans, but the speech appeared designed to appeal to a wide range of people and not just Republicans. Here are samples of quotes from his speech:

We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction.

We must choose whether we are defined by our differences, or whether we dare to transcend them.

President Trump did address a number of subjects of current political interest (and disputes) and urged the parties to work out a compromise instead of engaging in constant political battles. While it is doubtful that rhetoric will change attitudes and inspire compromise, perhaps he thought it was at least worth the attempt to appeal to broader interests:

This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots.

This is our future –our fate — and our choice to make.

I am asking you to CHOOSE GREATNESS.

No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.

Will There Be Another Shutdown?

There was no statement as to whether there will be another shutdown or not. Of course, that will depend not only on the president, but also depend on what Congress will or will not pass in a legislative package. In other words, we do not know if there will be another shutdown.

There is little doubt that the Democrats will remain in full resistance mode to most proposals from President Trump. The reaction by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, to much of the president’s speech leaves little doubt that her attitude toward the president will remain the same.

With regard to immigration reform, the overall issue that led to the partial government shutdown, President Trump said:

[M]y Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise — one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.

President Trump also recognized a federal employee, ICE Special Agent Celestino Martinez who goes by “CJ”.

Special Agent Celestino Martinez — he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ: Great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

He also referenced the need for a wall along America’s southern border as part of immigration reform and stated that the wall will be built. He also outlined the problems that are occurring as a result of not having a secure border and why immigration reform is needed.

Perhaps this means President Trump will declare a national emergency and use money from other sources to build the wall. Perhaps it means there will be another shutdown unless there is a compromise in Congress that provides appropriations for a wall along the southern border of the United States.

In short, the speech did not clarify what actions the president will take if there is not a compromise in legislation that passes in Congress. It appeared to be an appeal to those in Congress to come up with a solution acceptable to both parties with each side getting part of what they desire but not all.

Whether that will happen or not in the next few days seems doubtful but there may be sufficient political pressure for a resolution.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47