The cost of crisis

In the wake of the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Congress – either reach a deal on his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a southern border wall by Feb. 15, or face the consequences.

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws of the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump announced on Jan. 25.

Fortunately, congressional negotiators on both sides were able to strike a deal.

Their compromise budget bill passed through both houses and received the presidential signature on the very last day before funding ran out again.

Second shutdown averted.

Unfortunately, that deal did not include an end to the battle over the southern border, which was at the crux of the record-breaking 35-day shutdown that preceded this all.

The final budget for the year falls well short of Trump’s original border funding demand, allocating just $1.375 billion for his wall.

It’s enough to raise about 55 miles of fencing, according to the Wall Street Journal, but that’s not nearly enough to appease Trump’s loyal base.

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity slammed the agreement as a “garbage new compromise” that is “typical of the D.C. sewer” during his Fox News program.

He went on to encourage Trump to proceed with his earlier threat to “address this emergency” by diverting more money toward the wall.

“This is the time, that is the necessity,” Hannity argued.

And Trump agreed.

On the same day that he signed the bipartisan approved budget into law, Trump declared a national emergency over border security.

It’s an act that has received instantaneous bipartisan disapproval.

Congressional Democrats are furious at Trump’s emergency declaration, which they deem as an unconstitutional use of force, though this is to be expected from his opposition.

What’s more interesting is that many Congressional Republicans have come to share the same opinion.

“Declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise, and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution,” said Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Yet, despite numerous concerns and criticisms from members of his own party, Trump remains determined to build the wall at all costs.

Unfortunately for him – the cost may be 2020.

Six out of 10 Americans believe that Trump’s national emergency is unnecessary and that it’s a misuse of his executive power, according to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist opinion poll.

Republican approval still remains high in said poll, as does Democratic disapproval – these are both givens – but what’s most important is where nonpartisan voters stand.

According to the poll, only 33 percent of independents approve of Trump’s national emergency, compared to 63 percent who disapprove of it.

And as the lawsuits begin to pile up against him – a coalition of 16 states have already filed one – it is unlikely that such a constitutional controversy will sway many independents in Trump’s favor.

“He’s maintaining his base and little else,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of Marist Institute.

In 2016, president elect Trump gave thanks to the “silent majority,” a mass of unspoken voters whom he said had become disenchanted with the games played by the Washington establishment.

That silent majority, he proudly proclaimed during numerous rallies, had helped him win the presidential election.

But now, after having played political games of his own, will he still be able to count on the silent majority’s vote in 2020?

We shall see.

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