US budget crisis worsens all because of a wall

Credit to Author: Tempo Desk| Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:10:04 +0000



IT has now been a month since most of the federal government of the United States (US) had to shut down and some 800,000 employees furloughed without pay because the US President and the US Congress could not agree on an entirely different issue – whether Congress should appropriate $5.7 billion for President Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall across the US-Mexico border.

Congress – whose House of Representatives is now controlled by the Democratic Party after the recent mid-term elections – had appropriated funds for the entire federal government, but there was no funding for Trump’s wall in the budget of the Department of Homeland Security. The President refused to sign the bill for the entire federal budget, with the result that hundreds of offices have been closed down and thousands of federal workers are now staying home without pay.

For a while, some workers offered to work in critical positions even without pay, only an assurance of backpay later, but after a month of this abnormal situation, officials of the nation’s federal prisons, police forces, national airports, and other federal institutions are having serious concerns about the situation.

Last Monday, President Trump came up with what he called a “common-sense compromise.” In return for $5.7 billion for his wall, he offered to temporarily hold back on his efforts to deport young people who were brought in illegally as children as well as immigrants from disaster zones. But Democrats said these efforts have already been blocked by federal courts.

The rest of the world can only watch and wonder how the US, the planet’s lone military superpower today, its richest nation, allied with so many other countries with agreements of all kinds, now finds itself immobilized for a whole month now. Fortunately, there is no international crisis threatening world peace or stability at this time.

That situation could change at any time. In many parts of the world today – in Syria, in Africa, in Afghanistan, in Eastern Europe – there are conflicts which could grow into major confrontations. The US under President Trump may no longer want to serve as the world’s policeman, but world peace is held together by big nations watching each other, and that certainly includes the US, the biggest of them all.

Last Monday, the governors of some US states, including Michigan, New York, and Washington, asked the national administration to let them offer unemployment benefits to federal employees now working without pay, especially those in security such as police and prisons and in transportation such as airports.

The offer reflects the nation’s mounting concern over the danger faced by such crucial areas of the nation’s life. But these are mere temporary measures. The crisis posed by the closure of so many federal offices must be resolved by national officials – President Trump and members of Congress – who are now warring over the unrelated matter of funding for a wall.