Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I agree with Paul Waldman that the best way to end the government shutdown is for everyone to completely ignore President Trump. The House Democrats and the Senate Republicans should reach a compromise that allows the GOP to argue that they’ve strengthened the border and allows the Democrats to say that they’ve stood firm against paying for a wall that Trump assured us would be financed by the Mexican government. Then they should send this bill to Trump and dare him to veto it.

The Senate already voted 100-0 to keep the government open. The only reason the government is partially closed is that the House Republicans refused to hold a vote at all. With the Democrats taking over the House in January, the dynamic changes. A bill can be put on Trump’s desk.

The Senate Republicans might be reluctant to put Trump in that kind of jam, but they’re not going to keep the government closed forever just to appease him. And, in any case, there’s really no profit in trying to get Trump to agree to something in advance since he’s too mercurial to be trusted. He’s already burned the Senate once and disrupted their holiday plans by refusing to sign a bill they passed unanimously.

The partial shutdown has only been going on for a few days and it is already beginning to cause mayhem in the Department of Justice and our national parks. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close in a few days and the Environmental Protection Agency is out of money. Housing sales are getting held up because people can’t get flood insurance. And soon it will do severe damage to research and development.

The partial shutdown, caused by President Trump’s rejection of a bipartisan spending deal that did not allocate billions of dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, curtailed scientific operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Agriculture Department, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey. Furloughed government scientists are prohibited from checking on experiments, performing observations, collecting data, conducting tests or sharing their results.

If the budget impasse extends into the new year, scientists say, it will harm critical research.

Eventually, the president will get a bill on this desk passed by veto-proof margins. That will happen sooner if Congress just ignores him from the outset.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at