Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Government shutdown: What is the history of US budget standoffs?

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Image caption Hostilities between Democrats and Republicans over spending legislation have been common for the past few years

The US government has shut down for the second time in just over a year after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to fund Donald Trump’s border wall.

Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton all had to face down similar standoffs with Congress, resulting in government shutdowns or even a partial shutdown.

But the trade-off of closing down the government over a symbolic issue has been just as critical in this election year as it was in 2014.

“Every time the Republicans shut down the government, they do it because they have something to hide,” said Mr Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

“They’re talking about border security, but the fact is you are not going to get border security until you have a wall.”

Image caption Democrats used the tactics of government shutdowns to win key seats in 2010

In 2010, Democrats won swing-state congressional seats in 2010 by trying to deprive Republican candidates of funding for their in-state congressmen and women in exchange for supporting the Democrats’ own budget proposals.

And in 2014, Republicans pulled off a similar victory when their candidates – including then-presidential candidate Donald Trump – refused to sign a budget bill to avert a shutdown if Democrats did not agree to a budget that included funding for Mr Trump’s proposed border wall.

Mr Trump, who vowed during the 2016 election campaign to make Mexico pay for the wall, quickly signed a joint statement with Democrats that included $1.6bn (£1.2bn) for border security, including barriers. But he subsequently threatened a government shutdown if he did not get all $5.7bn (£4.3bn) requested.

Mr Trump finally signed the bill on Friday, but at the end of the spending fight, he rejected another government funding plan. That is now prompting a partial shutdown of the federal government that has delayed critical operations like the reopening of National Park Service sites, shutting the US embassy in Nicaragua, curtailing some loan applications and some National Weather Service employees to combat flooding and smog in the Midwest.

While the sudden shutdown takes attention away from the midterm elections – in which voters will choose a new House of Representatives and Senate in late January – it will also influence the 2020 presidential race.

SEE MORE: Why such a ‘holdout’ on border money?

“Donald Trump, in a sense, has himself and others to blame for this,” Karl Rove, former George W Bush adviser, told NBC News.

Democrats are likely to point to Mr Trump’s partial shutdown as evidence he does not want to fund the Wall – which he promised to build – and create a potential wedge issue in the Democratic race.

For his part, Mr Trump insists he has the right to do what he wants with a wall.

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump has also repeatedly called out Ms Pelosi, who was named House Speaker for the new Congress on Thursday. He called her “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer” and “Cryin’ Nancy”, a label he adopted in his 2016 campaign to win the Republican nomination.

Mr Trump tweeted on Friday: “I say, ‘Schumer, Cryin’ Chuck [Schumer], when are you going to hold a press conference and say how happy you are that I won?

“So funny how the tables have turned, when I asked @CryinChuckSchumer to ‘come out of hiding’ & stop playing games – he turned down the invitation.”

It is not clear whether his reported use of that nickname will factor into the primary race against a young Democratic senator from New York who is likely to be Hillary Clinton’s successor as the presidential nominee.

The quote caps off what has been a tough week for the president. He has also admitted that he would have rather beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016.

On Friday, Mr Trump also issued a statement saying he would not back the Democratic wish to permanently repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s always disappointing when the House is out,” said Ms Pelosi. “We expect the president will reject this legislation and the shutdown will resume.”

Mr Trump said the shutdown was “a big victory for the American people”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In 2015, Republicans refused to support legislation that would have kept the government funded if it included funding for Mr Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform

He tweeted: “After three years of suffering from bad economic policy and foreign disasters, we have just forced a shutdown of the worst handling of the economy in the history of the United States.”

Mr Trump’s staff said Mr Trump – who only served as president for about a month – would not be making a statement on the shutdown situation

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