The nation is heading to Day 34 of the longest partial government shutdown in its history, and opinions are divided as politicians seem to be on how to get out of this mess driven by President Trump’s stalemate with House Democrats over his demand for southern border wall funding.
Among all the arguing, we set out to ask Philadelphians: What do you think is needed to end the shutdown?
Bilal Qayyum, anti-violence activist, president of Father’s Day Rally Committee, and Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission member:
“Impeach Trump. If he really believes that he would be impeached, I think that he would begin to back off some of this stuff. But I don’t think he thinks he would be impeached. … The interesting thing to me, and I’m old enough to remember Watergate, is that the people demanded some action. I don’t hear that demand from the people. This is what, 33 days now? It’s a deliberate thing that we demand the Senate, Congress and president work it out.”
Grace Gardner, 66, street vendor
“This president is being derelict of his duties. This shutdown is about immigration, but the reality of it is the government being shut down has nothing to do with immigration and he is being selfish and egotistical. If we’re so intent on the wall at that price point, is it because he’s beholden to people he promised contracts to build the wall? I think nobody is bringing that up and it’s quite obvious.”
Paul, 55, Center City banker
“I’d donate all my savings to build the wall.”
Allen Rue, 49, computer programmer
“I would impeach Trump, but that’s not going to happen. I can’t think of anything we could possibly do. I don’t think either side is going to budge. This is the most divided time in my life that I could ever remember.”
Darrell L. Clarke, City Council president
“At the end of the day, people need to get in a room and get in a consensus on what they need to do. The president threw out some issues around things that he actually took away. I’m not telling people how to do their job, but I think he’s trying to do some kind of opening for whatever reason. I don’t think that the Democrats would not be able to put some kind of money on the table for some kind of security. I don’t think zero is going to get it done.”
Andrew Williams, freelance handyman
“I think the border wall is not the best way to think about it. We do need to have a certain sense of, OK, a very minute [amount?] of drug crime is coming through, but the overwhelming number of people coming through the border are families, are mothers escaping with young boys. I know of a sanctuary case in Philly where they escaped from Honduras to get away from gang violence. We need to be a little bit more humanitarian with that. We need to go back to the days of being, “bring me your poor, your huddled masses.” Right now, we’re not living up to that, especially in a nation built upon immigration, and especially this coming from folks not even fifth generation is really kind of appalling. If your family is from Ellis Island stock, or emigrated at any point, it’s just appalling that you would think you have the right to tell anyone else that you couldn’t come here.”
Adam Johnson, 35, sales specialist
“I honestly don’t believe we would have this guy in office if the party he ran for said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to allow this.’ They could’ve done that. The same guy is making all of these empty promises, saying Mexico is going to pay for it and block themselves out. Why? That’s dumb. Sad to say, there’s a large number of people that actually believed it, which was also dumb. I didn’t vote for that, so I shouldn’t have to pay for it. So why don’t you pay for it, Mr. Billionaire?”
Who is to blame for shutdown?
More broadly, an Emerson College poll of roughly 1,000 registered voters released no Jan. 22 found that 42 percent blame Trump for the shutdown, 36 percent blame Democrats, six percent blame Republicans, and 16 percent blame everyone.
A slim majority of voters, 55 to 45 percent, support trading temporary protections for “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, for wall funding — while a higher number, 66 to 34 percent, supported trading full citizenship or amnesty for dreamers for wall funding. Trump’s approval rating, meanwhile, was at 42 percent, while his disapproval rating was at 52 percent.
Additional reporting by Sam Newhouse