5 days to go before Democrats call Donald Trump's bluff on US Govt shutdown: Here's how they'll do it

New York: Donald Trump has 5 more days to spin his border wall story into a spaghetti bowl of cultural and racial falsehoods. Democrat Nancy Pelosi will most likely be House speaker in 5 days, she has already scolded and shamed Trump - "his wall demand is a manhood thing" - and she has three ways to beat back the US president-led government shutdown:

- Pass a full-year continuing resolution (CR) for the portion of the government that's shut. That would keep all government agencies at their current funding levels.
- Pass six spending bills, and a continuing resolution (CR) for Homeland Security until September. This would boost some government agencies' money, but would keep DHS at its current levels.
- Pass the stopgap spending bill that the Senate passed, which would fund all government agencies through 8 February at their current levels.

 5 days to go before Democrats call Donald Trumps bluff on US Govt shutdown: Heres how theyll do it

Nancy Pelosi (center) takes over as House speaker 3 January. AP

No matter which option Pelosi goes with, Trump won't get his $5 billion for the border wall. He'll get $ 1.3 billion and no wall, no slush fund, no cookies in the jar. For Pelosi and House Democrats, it's a blood feud with Trump now, not some ordinary change of guard. Trump, cooped up in the White House after cancelling his planned 16 day vacation to Florida, is reportedly spending entire days consumed by the shutdown coverage on news television. The shutdown was triggered by the US president's demand for $5 billion to help pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The overall project has an estimated cost of $23 billion.

The partial government shutdown is entering its second week today and government employees we spoke to who have been forced to work without pay or stay home are saying "Trump's stupid". Some of those who spoke with Firstpost identify as Republican voters and even they are "sick" of the constant gridlock. Many of these workers are in states Trump needs if he wants to win a second term. "She wanted to buy her grandkids a bike for Christmas. Then came the shutdown" screams a headline in The Washington Post. A steady stream of those stories have begun. Trump, for his part, is hoping the prolonged shutdown will split votes further along partisan lines as he turbocharges his 2020 campaign.

Polls say otherwise, Trump himself is walking back his demands. Now he's talking of a fence and steel slats.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday, more Americans now blame Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial U.S. government shutdown with no end in sight. Forty-seven percent of adults hold Trump responsible, according to the 21-25 December poll, conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans. Very early polling is also showing Democratic voters are likely to be more enthusiastic for 2020 candidates with better chances of beating Trump than any other quality.

"What part of Democratic majority and he's not getting the wall do they not understand?", Democrats are asking, as they fan out across news telly prime time ahead of the New Year. The border wall tantrum is Trump's last gasp and the Opposition is letting him vent it all out before payback time, come 3 January.

Given the numbers the Democrats have in the House now, post midterms, they could go all in for a veto-proof legislation, hamstringing Trump. That would put the President in a bad place. The longer this brinkmanship continues, more likely the Republicans end up with bloody noses. Democrats are confident of this. The Senate has no incentive to prolong the agony any longer as there is no political incentive. Today, Trump is grandstanding that $1.3 billion is too little but come 3 January, the political reality will be different. It won't just be the House numbers against him, but everyday Americans affected by the shutdown who will begin coming out with their stories.

On Friday, Democrats showed the first signs of how the game's going to play out, barely acknowledging Trump’s latest threat of shuttering the entire southern border if he doesn’t get his way. Instead, they let the Trump White House know negotiations won’t begin until Trump publicly endorses an offer to reopen the government. Already, Democrats riding on a new wave of confidence are saying there'll be "hell to pay" if evidence shows that US negligence had a role to play in the recent deaths of two children under 10 years waiting for asylum entry at the US-Mexico border. Trump's rage-tweeting is not moving the needle one bit.

The final Trump crisis of 2018 is a "prelude to impeachment proceedings" says Elizabeth Holtzman, author of The Case For Impeaching Trump.

"Even Republicans may be deciding that the president has become too great a burden to their party or too great a danger to the country", writes Elizabeth Drew in a New York Times op-ed Friday.

Updated Date: Dec 29, 2018 06:34:30 IST