Government shutdown: timeline of significant events


March 21

Actually, though, the funding that passed Congressional approval included no money for President Trump’s wall, but rather funding to put up 47 miles of fencing that is similar to what’s there now, and funding to replace 45 miles of existing fencing.

December 11

Democratic leaders and President Trump get together to talk wall funding again. President Trump wants $5 billion for the border wall, and Democrats offer $1.6 billion in border-security funding, not all of which could be used for the wall.

Trump rejects the offer, and says he’ll be “proud” to shutdown the government until he gets his border wall.

December 19

The Senate passes a continuing resolution (CR), or short-term funding bill, that does not include border-wall funding but keeps the government open until February 8.

President Trump seemed to support the bill, according to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

December 20

Trump about-faces on his support of the CR, apparently after listening to criticism from conservative TV hosts. He abruptly announces that he will not sign a bill that has no wall funding. Doing so guarantees a shutdown.

House Republicans then pass a CR that includes $5.7 billion in wall funds. Note: Republicans are still in control of the House at this point. The CR must go to the Senate for a vote.

December 21

Knowing the Senate won’t have the votes to pass the bill–they need a 2/3 majority–President Trump tells Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the nuclear option.

the nuclear option

When a bill is introduced in the Senate, debate opens on it. Senators have a chance to weigh in on/question different aspects of the bill and, when they are satisfied, there is a move to end the debate and have a vote.

If a Senator wants to prevent that vote from happening they can filibuster, or refuse to stop the debate in order to vote.

In order to stop a filibuster, there must be a supermajority, or 60 votes, which allows minority parties to have some “cooling” power on legislation, and a way to insist that parties work together. This chamber of Congress was supposed to function this way, according to the framers.

The exception to the supermajority requirement results from the nuclear option.

The nuclear option is when the Senate votes to change its own rules to use a simple majority to end a filibuster, which obviously is a much lower number (51). Most Senators strongly disagree with using the tactic.

no nuclear option

So, without the nuclear option, the Senate votes down the House CR–as predicted–and the government moves closer to a shutdown.

December 22


January 3

Democrats take over control of the House and Nancy Pelosi is elected Speaker. The new Democratic majority passes two bills which would fund the government that do not include money for the border wall. Republican Senate leaders refuse to consider the bills. Note: Mitch McConnell, as majority leader, can simply refuse to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

January 4

President Trump said, “I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing” and mentioned the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in order to use military funding for the wall.

January 9

President Trump addresses the American people on prime-time TV in hopes of selling his border wall as a “national emergency.” Democrats followed with a rebuttal. Check out the Debater on both sides.

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