The longest government shutdown ever (quick note: defense contractors like Lockheed Martin are still cashing the government’s checks and Wall Street can still get 0% overnight loans from the Fed—this is a safety net shutdown) is coming to a temporary close, as President Deals backed off his demands to build a wall that he did not demand to build while he controlled both chambers of congress. His decree was delivered from the White House Rose Garden, which is usually reserved for celebratory announcements, and even Fox News is spinning this as a victory for Pelosi.
This is just a three-week extension with no money for Trump’s monument to racism on our southern border, which means that we could be right back in this mess again by Valentines Day. Plus, his threat to invoke a national emergency if nothing is resolved in three weeks is harrowing, given that dictatorships across the globe have begun with autocrats giving themselves emergency powers they never relinquish (one problem with this move: whether the president has emergency powers or not, you still need to fund the government through congress).
Federal workers will get back-pay in this deal, and Trump seems to have caved thanks in large part to collective action this week by organized labor, as Sara Nelson, the leader of the Association of Flight Attendants, called for a general strike. She spoke to Splinter about their thoughts on the situation before news broke that Trump was about to cave:
All of the aviation unions got together. We shared information and talked about, “when are we operating outside that envelope?” We know right now that we are less safe. Okay? That is bizarre for me to say to you, because as a safety professional, there’s one level of safety… what we’re trying to assess is, is the crumbling of the information a pilot gets when making the determination about whether or not it’s safe, has it crumbled so much that we don’t even know what we don’t know? That’s the breaking point.
We all know there have been layers peeled away here from safety and security. Each one of those layers operates as a failsafe. And when you pull those away, you’re just introducing more risk in the system.
Two days ago, air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendant unions released a statement warning of dire consequences in our air travel if this shutdown dragged on much longer. Polls show that a majority of Americans blame Trump and the GOP for this shutdown. If you are writing a headline like “Trump caves to Pelosi,” understand that not only could Mitch McConnell have ended this nonsense whenever he wanted to by putting forth a bill already passed by the House and passed unanimously by the Senate, but Pelosi’s hardline stance on the border wall was incredibly easy to defend thanks to the public already being on her side, and the serious pressure placed on Trump in this mess came from America’s flight travel unions this week. Collective action works, and it will require more pressure on Trump and the GOP to keep the United States federal government open for more than just a measly three weeks.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.