The Calm Before the Next Political Storm - Sunday Political Brunch - February 3, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Do the math! Last Friday, President Trump signed a deal to re-open the partial government shutdown for three weeks. Well one week has come and gone, and now we have two weeks left for the warring sides to strike a deal. I’ve yet to speak to anyone who’s optimistic that will happen. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Trump, Trumping Trump?” -- The President does not seem inclined to do a deal with Democrats unless there is funding for a border wall. “No. Because if there’s no wall, it doesn’t work,” President Trump told reporters Thursday when asked if he would accept border measures without wall funding, currently estimated at $5.7 billion dollars.

“Pelosi’s Stonewall” – She’s not just the House Speaker controlling the opposition party against the Trump agenda. She’s also the gatekeeper. According to the U.S. Constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House. With her opposed to any funding for a border wall, that’s a pretty strong spot to be in. But – in the spirit of Super Bowl weekend – President Trump can call an “end run,” known as a National Emergency Declaration. More on that in a moment!

“The Schumer Stall” – One of the people caught in the crossfire is Senator Chuck Schumer, (D) New York, the Senate Minority Leader (and in the interests of full-disclosure, my former boss in 1992-93). He’s in a tough spot – play hardball with President Trump – but appease the interests of his own party. Some Democrats were upset that Schumer dug in his heels with Trump, in what led to the government shutdown in a fight between a border wall and citizenship for DACA children. “I’m disappointed with a conversation that suggests a false choice: You either fund the government or you take care of these … kids. We can do both,” Sen. Kamala Harris, (D) California told

“GOP Leaders Sidelined” – The dynamic of this whole standoff is fascinating. We hear often from President Trump, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer. But what about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky. “He’s said it publicly and privately: He thinks shutdowns don’t work. Nobody wins and that’s not what we worked so hard to get into the majority to do, to shut down the government. We got the majority to govern,” Sen. John Cornyn (R) said to Politico. “The president is the only one who has been reasonable in these negotiations. I’ve been in every single meeting, so I watched it. … [Democrats] didn’t want to negotiate,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) California. In many respects McConnell’s and McCarthy’s voices have been muted.

“State of the Union” – Now that the government has completely reopened, we are going to have a State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, February 5. This ought to be fascinating because this is clearly one of the most polarizing times in American political history. Will the President be conciliatory and extend an olive branch to Congress – especially Democrats – on some issues. Or will this be a night where he launches an in-your-face-attack on Democrats and Speaker Pelosi? (who will be sitting right behind him). Will she applaud him at any point, or just sit on her hands? It may be the most entertaining (or, uncomfortable) State of the Union in our history.

“National Emergency Declaration” – My latest prediction is that President Trump will not strike a deal with Congress, and will then declare a National State of Emergency at the Mexican border. Democrats will file an injunction in Federal District Court to stop him, and we can all hit the “taxi cab meter” for billable hours. Whether a court filing has merit is not always the objective. In this case Democrats may be trying to stall and delay and “run out the clock” with what they perceive as 23 months left in the Trump presidency.

“Implications for 2020” – Immigration is the number-one reason why Donald Trump was elected President. It was his signature issue. If nothing gets done Democrats may come across as obstructionists. It could help Trump’s reelection bid and hurt candidates trying to ride the Pelosi-Schumer coattails. On the other hand, he did have two years in which Republicans controlled the House and Senate, so why didn’t his majority succeed then? Both parties are fair game for criticism. The answer could be troubling for four potential or announced Democratic candidates for the White House in states with severe border issues. That means Senator Kamala Harris, (D) California, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) California, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, (D) Texas and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, (D) Texas could be vulnerable to criticism.

Who do you blame for the latest government shutdown, and the one that lies ahead? Democrats? Republicans? The President or "all-of-the-above?” Click the comments button here, or email me at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a 42-year professional in radio, television, newspaper, and internet journalism all across America. He is presently the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, including most of the Washington, DC television market. He is a two-time Edward R. Murrow Award winner.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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