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Can Trump get a divided U.S. Congress to reach a compromise?

  • February 7, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 8:00 p.m.
  • English Press

It seems his aggressive style of running the government, which clings fast to his own election pledges, has hit an impasse. There is concern that the antagonism and turmoil within the United States will worsen, which could have a negative impact on the global economy and international politics.


U.S. President Donald Trump has delivered his State of the Union address to Congress and explained the policies of his administration. Trump again proclaimed the necessity of building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent inflows of illegal immigrants. He demanded the ruling and opposition parties set aside funding for the wall in the budget.


Construction of the wall is one of Trump’s signature campaign pledges. As Trump girds for the 2020 presidential election, there is no doubt that he is sticking firm to this pledge to keep hold of his core base of supporters.


The problem is that Trump has not sincerely accepted the reality that the opposition Democratic Party’s securing of a majority in the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections has created a “divided Congress.”


As a result of Trump declaring he would reject any budget that did not include funding to build the wall, a temporary budget lapsed and some federal government bodies were shut down.


The 35-day shutdown — the longest in U.S. history — lasted until late January and disrupted daily life for many citizens, such as through problems with flights departing and arriving at airports. Some members of the ruling Republican Party also revolted against Trump over the shutdown.


Trump eventually approved a three-week short-term budget that contained no funds for the wall. Rather than being forced into making a concession, Trump probably perceived this as nothing more than a temporary truce.


This temporary budget runs out on Feb. 15. The Democratic Party is unbending in its position that measures to counter illegal immigration can be taken even without building a wall. How will Trump reach a compromise with the divided Congress?


Allies not mentioned


If there are developments in the investigation into suspicions of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, it is possible that moves to impeach the president could begin. Management of the government could become even more unstable.


Gridlock in Congress could even have repercussions on matters such as an increase in the federal government’s debt ceiling expected in March. This inevitably also would deal a blow to the global economy. Cooperation in Congress also will be essential for realizing investment to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, which the administration is positioning as the next policy to boost the economy.


In his address, Trump boasted that large tax cuts and deregulation have resulted in a robust economy. But his overly optimistic projections are worrying at a time when slowdowns are becoming apparent in the economies of China and Europe due to issues including U.S.-China trade friction and Britain’s upcoming exit from the European Union.


On foreign policy matters, Trump showed his strong desire to hold a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, at the end of this month. Trump stated his theory that “great nations do not fight endless wars,” and also emphasized his plan to withdraw or reduce U.S. military forces stationed in Syria and Afghanistan.


Trump made no specific mention of working closely with U.S. allies or the United States’ responsibility to uphold the international order. Trump’s inward-looking approach cannot help but cause anxiety.

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