Addressing the nation in the Rose Garden Friday afternoon, President Trump announced that he will temporarily end the country’s historic 35-day government shutdown, allowing over 800,000 federal workers to either return to work or finally receive their long overdue paychecks.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” the President said, noting that the government shutdown will resume on February 15 if he does not receive funding for his long-awaited border wall.
In the likely event that Congress is unable to reach an agreement on border wall funding by this February deadline, however, Trump ominously vowed to utilize his emergency powers to address what he has often referred to as a national crisis.
The President then proceeded to pander to the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who haven’t received their paychecks in well over a month. Calling them “incredible patriots” and “fantastic people,” he promised all government employees that they will receive their back pay very shortly, despite using them as hostages for his border wall funding in the first place.
While Trump’s entire goal of the shutdown was to receive $5.7 billion to fulfill one of his main campaign promises, he has agreed to forgo funding for his wall for another three weeks, essentially admitting that he unnecessarily raked federal workers over the coals for 35 days just to reset the clock.
On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump announced the reinstatement of a ban, via Twitter, preventing transgender people from serving in any and all branches of the military “in any capacity.” The ban would not only prohibit transgender people from joining military but would force military personnel already serving to give up their positions. This decision seems to have been made very abruptly considering that, during both his campaign and his presidency thus far, he has never voiced his interest or concern about whether or not he thinks trans people should be able to serve their country. In fact, senators from both major parties were quite shocked by this decision and immediately took to Twitter to advocate for trans involvement in the military, thanking them for their service and assuring them that who they are is not a “burden”, a word Trump used to describe the medical expenses of trans people in the armed forces. Even Republican Senator John McCain, who is notoriously socially conservative, voiced his outrage over Trump’s news, saying that the tweets Trump posted announcing the ban were “unclear” and that “There is no reason to force any service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military.” While Trump claims the ban is due to the cost of hormone replacement therapy and/or reassignment surgery that transgender military personnel may need, these expenses are a fraction of the cost of the Department of Defense’s healthcare expenditures, totaling to only around $8.4 million, at most, out of a 49 billion dollar budget. In other words, attempting to justify this ban as a way to decrease costs is simply untrue. In addition, banning an entire demographic of people from the military is not only discriminatory, and echoes not so distant moments in American history when black or gay people couldn’t serve, but it decreases the number of willing and able citizens who want to fight to protect their country. All the while, this regressive and discriminatory announcement of the ban falls on the 69th anniversary of the day President Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces.