The federal government remains partially shutdown this New Year’s Eve, with no clear way forward and every reason to believe the shutdown will last into 2019. The central issue remains the border wall, which President Donald Trump has been demanding for more than two years.
Despite his decision to shut down the government, recent reports suggest that Trump is softening his stance on a border wall. He has repeatedly admitted that much of the wall won’t be an actual wall, talking about steel slats and other structures that might be used instead.
Trump’s outgoing chief of staff John Kelly admitted that the wall may not be a wall. “To be honest, it’s not a wall,” Kelly said during an interview on his exit from the White House. Trump may not have been pleased with Kelly’s statement, but the fact remains that his commitment to the wall is looking shaky.
Trump talks a good game about the wall, but he has had two years to deliver on his promise and nothing has materialized. Despite Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, Trump failed to secure the funding he wanted for the wall. Instead, the GOP focused on tax cuts which ballooned the deficit.
Some conservative supporters have already moved against Trump in recent weeks. Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter criticized Trump so badly he unfollowed her on Twitter, while Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has questioned the President’s ability to deliver.
Though the President has threatened to keep the government shutdown indefinitely unless he gets $5bn for the wall, this is simply not tenable. Democrats take control of the House in January and will feel justified in refusing any funding for a wall. All this adds to Trump’s difficulties with voters ahead of the 2020 election. If he fails to deliver the wall, a key aspect of his agenda will be defeated.