Sure the U.S. is in the middle of a government shutdown, but this White House always has time to throw a tantrum.
If you ring the White House this week, you can expect the call to go to voicemail - and this is the message you'll be hearing:
“Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down.”
Talk about petty.
It’s important to note the minimising way the message addressed the “unrelated” immigration debate.
Democrats are holding a hard line to make sure that Dreamers—immigrants who moved to the U.S. when they were young, and in many cases have spent most of their lives here—remain protected.
The current bill contains no resolution to the immigration policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), so those immigrants are no longer officially protected after Trump rescinded Obama’s policy that protected them from deportation.
Republicans are currently using the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as a bargaining chip. The program that covers nine million kids ran out about 100 days ago, and Republicans didn’t care, but they’re now using it in an attempt to force Democrats into a deal.
House Republicans could make CHIP permanent, but instead are adding a six-year CHIP extension plan to their short-term stopgap spending bill that would stop the government shutdown. It’s a sneaky ploy, as if Democrats refuse to approve the spending bill on its own (lack of) merit or the DACA issue, Republicans can accuse them of not caring about children.
The shutdown began Friday at midnight, and the voicemail message seems to have changed shortly after.
It has already attracted huge criticism for its extreme partisan message.
Actor Sean Astin summed it up by tweeting:
“The Public White House Phone Line spews partisan venom.
The Vice-President just told troops in the field that Democrats are playing games with their pay.
The Trump campaign is calling Democrats murderers.
I think these people are trying to start an actual civil-war.”