Trump holds the line as the shutdown continues

Fierce partisanship is making compromise difficult. Matthew Partridge reports.


Pelosi: refuses to budge on moral grounds
(Image credit: Copyright (c) 2019 Shutterstock. No use without permission.)

The "first sign of progress" in the standoff between President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats has appeared, reports Lauren Gambino in The Guardian. The row, over whether to fund Trump's promised wall on the Mexican border, is now in its fifth week and has shut down many branches of government, leaving 800,000 federal workers without pay.

In a bid to end the 32-day stalemate, Democrats and Republicans have agreed to bring "duelling bills" to the Senate floor. The Democrats' bill would fund the government until 8 February; the Republican bill would allocate $5.7bn in funding for the border wall in exchange for allowing illegal immigrants who came to the US when they're young to remain permanently.

Is a real breakthrough likely?

Compromise is made difficult by the fact the wall has become the symbol of everything the Democrats loathe most about the president (House speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the wall "immoral"); for their part, many Republicans have spent their entire careers opposing any immigration reform. The Republican proposal, drafted by Trump, is a "nonstarter" anyway because it is designed to be unacceptable to Democrats, says

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Jim Newell on Slate. But it is just possible the Republicans might "cave" and allow a clean funding bill to pass.Even if they don't, "we are starting to see this week what we hadn't seen in the past month of the shutdown: movement". It is significant the Senate Republicans requested Trump come up with some proposals andthat some House Democrats have requested Pelosi should at least allow a vote on the wall. This suggests "pressure from anxious Senate Republicans and anxious House Democrats is starting to operate".

Let the horse-trading begin

Trump has already indicated that, just as he made the wall "a focal point in... 2016 and 2018", he will do so again for the presidential election in 2020, even though a majority of the population opposes it, says Alex Shephard in The New Republic. With the major Democratic candidates moving to the left on immigration, even if the current shutdown ends, we can expect "another potential impasse over funding the government".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri