President Donald Trump has been pushing for the construction of parts of the U.S.-Mexico border wall for the longest time. Trump and his officials have been talking about including the funds for the border wall in a budget proposal to Congress on Friday. If this happens, it could mean another federal government shutdown, as it means a confrontation with his own party members and the Democrats.
This Tuesday, three days before the deadline, members of Congress were talking about a spending proposal without the controversial funding for the border wall. Instead they were negotiating to increase the funds for other priorities, such as border security and the military.
Change of tune
The world knows Pres. Trump wants that border wall built. It was part of his campaign platform and he continues to be very vocal about it. Last week he was noncommittal about the bill for its funding when interviewed. But as usual, he was pushing for it over the weekend through Twitter.
It was another crisis avoided when Trump pulled off his demand to get funding for the border wall. Still Americans cannot be complacent that they’ve seen the last of it. Right now, there are still many financial issues to be discussed. Among these is the issue of payment to health insurers. Through the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), health care plan buyers who are low-income individuals are allowed to buy insurance at lower prices and lower deductibles.
The Republicans are going to use the subsidy payments to health insurers as their bargaining tool when they face the Democrats over the government spending allowance. They will need the Democrats’ votes in order for the funding bill to pass in the Senate. It can be recalled that the Trump administration said that it would continue to pay the subsidies to insurance companies under the ACA. House Republicans have stated before that these are illegal payments because Congress never authorized the subsidy.
The fate of the subsidy payments still hangs in the air because of the lawsuit that the GOP filed in 2014. Over six million Americans and a number of insurance companies will be affected if the subsidy payments are withdrawn.
For a time, the Trump administration threatened to stop the subsidy payments, which now continues. However, the Democrats have taken a harder stance. They want the payments to be guaranteed before they agree to any deal. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Maryland), stated that this is something that the Republicans must do for Americans. It should not be used as bait to sweeten any deal with the Democrats.
Another point to be taken up during the negotiations is the issue over the health benefits of retired miners. Last year this issue almost caused a government shutdown. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III and several Democrats request the extension of the miners’ benefits. Also included in the discussion is the bailout of the Medicaid program of Puerto Rico.
Republicans were happy that Pres. Trump relented on the border wall funding. They said that they were making good progress in their negotiations with the Democrats over the past few weeks. The last minute request of Trump almost sabotaged their progress.
Pres. Trump still insists that the border wall will be built. Maybe not today but he said that they are already making plans for it.
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