The two most important players in the shutdown debate — President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — have not met or spoken for 13 days. Their staffs have only sporadically engaged with each other about the shutdown, now at 33 days and the longest in U.S. history.
How did we get here? And who is actually offering what at this point? It seems worthwhile to take a deep breath and lay out the current positions, and how they have sometimes changed.
8 moves from Trump and the White House
- Original request: $1.6 billion. Trump’s starting point was $1.6 billion for a border wall, a request he made in his official budget released in February 2018.
- Up to $5 billion. On Aug. 12, Trump mentioned his demand for $5 billion at a Utica, N.Y., fundraiser.
- Steel, not concrete. In December, Trump started stressing that he wanted a “steel-slat” fence, not a concrete wall.
- Encouraged stopgap bill. The next move from the White House came Dec. 19, when Vice President Mike Pence met with Republican senators. Pence gave the impression that Trump would sign a stopgap bill to keep government running until Feb. 8, with no wall funding before then.
- Rejected stopgap bill. But after the Senate passed the bill, the president rejected it emphatically and demanded $5.7 billion for a wall or “steel-slate fence.” This was Dec. 20.
- Pence: $2.5 billion for a wall or fence. The next offer? Pence met with Democrats at the Capitol on Dec. 22 and reportedly suggested a deal for $2.5 billion in wall money.
- Trump: $5.6 billion for a “wall.” Democratic leaders say shortly after Pence left the Capitol, the White House withdrew the $2.5 billion idea. The White House has not disputed this and Trump later told reporters his demand was “not $2.5 billion” but “$5.6 billion.” Meantime, the president was using the word “wall,” not “fence.” (Example: his national address on Jan. 8.)
- Current offer: That brings us to the president’s current offer, made this past weekend: three years of protected status for DACA recipients, who were brought here illegally as children, as well as those with Temporary Protected Status, who have been in the country since fleeing crises in their home nations. In exchange, he is still demanding $5.7 billion for a wall.
5 moves from Democrats
- Schumer’s starting point: $1.6 billion for “border security.” In late November and early December, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer drew a line at $1.6 billion for “border security,” which could not be used for a concrete wall. Fencing was not ruled out. Sources close to Schumer repeated this to the PBS NewsHour at the time.
- Down to $1.3 billion. As the shutdown loomed, House and Senate Democrats used the figure $1.3 billion instead of $1.6 billion. This was the amount of barrier funding appropriated the previous year.
- Many versions of short-term funding. From their first day controlling the House of Representatives (Jan. 3), Democrats have passed a flurry of bills, each slightly different variations of funding most agencies for the rest of the year and funding the Department of Homeland Security through sometime in February.
- State of the Union is on the table. As the impasse moved into its third week, Pelosi wrote the president on Jan. 16 to indicate that the State of the Union should not occur as long as parts of the government, particularly law enforcement agencies, remain shut down and workers are unpaid. Trump responded in a letter to Pelosi Wednesday that he planned to deliver the State of the Union from the House floor; Pelosi shot back that she would not allow the speech to take place until the shutdown ends.
- Current position: For several weeks, Democratic leaders said they will not make a deal until government reopens first, at which point their $1.3 billion offer for barrier money would remain on the table. But now House Democrats are preparing a new offer that would include border security funding, but no money for a new wall. (Senate Republicans are also readying legislation to reopen the government that would include Trump’s demand for border wall funding.)