Despite throwing an extended tantrum in order to get his wall, President Donald Trump — our First Baby, our Toddler-in-Chief — told reporters on Friday that he didn’t want to “do” a national emergency. Actually, his exact words were, according to The Guardian: “What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency.” Emphasizing that he could do a chaos, if he wanted to, Trump reportedly added: “I’m not going to do it so fast.”
So, to clarify, the White House does not wanna do national emergency, but it might! We will just have to wait and see how our petulant leader feels in coming days, weeks, oh God, months, years…?
Trump drop-kicked the federal government into this current purgatory in December, when Congress refused to give him $5.7 billion in funding for his border wall. The resulting partial shutdown has now continued for 21 days, with about 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay. Let us just sprint quickly through a shortlist of the consequences: The Food and Drug Administration has suspended the majority of its food safety inspections; our national parks are languishing and/or closing in the face of vandalism; TSA workers are calling in sick en masse; the Bureau of Indian Affairs no longer has enough money to fully fund food, medical, and law-enforcement programs; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has had to ask landlords not to evict housing assistance-reliant residents during this period of financial collapse.
I could go on, but I’ll just leave it here: Friday marked the first missed paycheck for many federal employees, whose average net income comes to about $500 per week, according to the New York Times.
All the while, Trump has leveraged a crisis of his own making as an opportunity to advance his own agenda, refusing to reopen the government until Congress approves the wall. On Wednesday, he is said to have walked out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer with a childish “bye-bye” because, as Trump reportedly put it to the Democratic leaders, “You won’t give me what I want.” And on Thursday, he told press he would “probably,” “maybe definitely,” declare a national emergency in order to build his wall without Congressional approval.
As of Friday afternoon, he had purportedly pivoted away from what certainly sounded like his Plan A. At the same time, though, he continued to bemoan the “humanitarian and security crisis at the border” at a round-table discussion, another opportunity for him to share a bunch of alarmist misinformation in support of the wall. So, will he do emergency? Your guess is as good as mine.