By Madeleine Dean
President Donald Trump’s recent government shutdown was the longest in our nation’s history.
The president inflicted needless trauma on 800,000 federal workers and thousands more contractors – including the people who keep us safe. He also compromised food inspections, environmental protections, and airline safety.
And yet, at his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president didn’t mention the shutdown once.
This came as a surprise. After all, he has spent the last few weeks threatening another shutdown if he doesn’t get his costly, ineffective border wall.
Why the sudden silence?
Perhaps it’s because he finally recognizes that he’s not going to get his way, no matter how many times he throws a tantrum in a sandbox.
Congress – and the American people – have made it clear: overwhelming majorities don’t want another shutdown.
And increasingly, Senate Republicans are saying the same thing. After defending the President throughout his five-week shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., now indicates that he has no appetite for another one – and neither does his caucus.
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In the wake of his confrontation with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – and outraged Americans from all walks of life – President Trump may now understand that shutdowns are a losing strategy.
That doesn’t mean he won’t initiate another one – but if he does, the reaction from Congress and the country will be even more powerful than last time.
Let’s hope the president doesn’t go there.
Right now, a bipartisan congressional committee is working hard to negotiate a border security deal. The best thing the President can do is to stop issuing counterproductive threats and let the committee do its work.
That work, after all, is the real heart of democracy – hard conversations about complicated issues that affect us all.
And we know how to do that work. Democrats and Republicans alike want border security, and our differences about where to devote resources aren’t as big as they often seem.
Congress passed a border security agreement just two months ago. There’s every reason to believe we can do it again.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, represents Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District. She writes from Washington D.C.