The dramatic showdown on Wednesday between Donald Trump and the Democratic leaders and the provocative PR border trip the following day seems to confirm the fears of the observers: a breakthrough in the negotiations to end one of the longest interruptions in US history is all but imminent.
While the main government operations were closed for the 21st day and about 800,000 federal employees remained without salary, both the president and the Democrats withdrew in their own turns.
As for Trump, any agreement must satisfy his long-standing vote of building a wall beyond the southern border. The president threatened to declare a national emergency on the border situation – a move he believes might allow him to circumvent Congress and start building a wall by himself – if legislators refuse to fund the project.
The president's position is a non-starter with the Democrats, just in the majority of the House after the midterms of 2018. They asked for a government bill that basically keeps spending at current levels, rejecting Trump's insistence on $ 5.7 billion for a border wall.
Three weeks after the crisis, most Americans seem to blame Trump for closing – further isolating the president with only his ardent supporters in favor of the White House strategy.
But there are few options that remain available to the president, partly because the only real crisis was that of Trump.
Michael Steel, former assistant spokesman John Boehner, said that Trump supported himself and the Republicans in a corner by insisting on a wall despite a bipartisan agreement in the Senate last month that would have called into question a debate on immigration and the border security until after a halt was first avoided.
"Someone talks about the president in a terribly poor strategy based on a deeply flawed analysis that somehow would have had more influence in this debate if it had been held in the context of a total or partial arrest," Steel said.
Steel added that Trump's public appeals this week, which the president himself was reluctant to give, would not gain democratic votes "in a way, form or form".
The Republicans in Congress largely supported the president, though some leaks have emerged this week while lawmakers feel the pressure of voters at home to end the impasse.
A handful of moderate Senate Republicans – including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado – have publicly broken with Trump and have expressed their support for a clean government funding policy. On Wednesday, eight Republicans in the House publicly criticized the president and joined the Democrats to vote on the laws that would reopen the government without funding the wall.
"I continue to point out that there is no good reason for a closure," Murkowski told reporters at Capitol Hill. "The reality is that thousands of federal employees and contractors do not have stocks in sight, the small businesses that rely on them suffer and there is no reason why they should be held hostage to a political dispute."
Murkowski personally raised the issue with Trump on Tuesday, when he attended a closed-door lunch with the Senate Republicans, saying that the president's constituents felt the "consequences" of the closure. However, Trump yields, urging the Republican unity in response.
While the concept of a boundary wall is widely popular with the president's base, the proposal does not have the same pull with the majority of the American public.
Even so, Trump struck a challenging tone during his visit to the border town of McAllen, Texas on Thursday.
The president again suggested that criminals and terrorists roam freely across the border, ignoring that the illegal immigration rate has fallen dramatically in the last decade, that the undocumented population in the United States has hit a minimum of 12 years last year and studies have shown that illegal immigration does not increase violent crime.
Trump said Thursday was "definitely" prepared to declare a national emergency, despite warnings, including from conservatives, that such a move would be tantamount to a presidential expansion.
A national emergency, however, could be Trump's only way out of the fight without throwing in the towel, suggested Rory Cooper, a Republican strategist who served as an assistant to the former leader of the majority of the House, Eric Cantor.
"It gets the longest closure of the story, which is something very similar to Trump to want," said Cooper, adding, "I think the president looks at the base and says he fought harder than anyone else, he announces a & # 39 national emergency, reopen the government and let the courts deal with it ", he added.
"He just needs one out."