It is still possible the the $33 billion budget supplemental, which includes $1.4 billion for “for CBP Procurement, Construction, and
Improvements, including $999 million for planning, design, and construction of the first installment of the border wall, $179 million for access roads, gates, and other tactical infrastructure projects, and $200 million for border security technology deployments” might wind up in the April 28 continuing resolution after all.
But it may not get done until the September the way things are looking.
On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, April 23, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus outlined the White House’s priorities, “We expect a massive increase in military spending, we expect money for border security in this bill, and it ought to be because the president won overwhelmingly and everyone understood that the border wall was part of it.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appearing on Fox and Friends on April 24 confirmed, “We’ll move a bill forward with some money for the wall.”
Sessions added, “[A]nd it will be up to Congress to pass it, and if the Democrats filibuster that and block it, they’re the ones shutting the whole government down just to keep the wall from being built, no doubt about it.”
Congressional Democrats, for their part, naturally, are threatening a government shutdown. On Meet the Press, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thundered, “The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans. The wall is in my view immoral, expensive [and] unwise.”
To which President Donald Trump responded on Twitter, “The Democrats don’t want money from [the] budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.”
But late Monday, Trump reportedly indicated a willingness to put off the additional border wall funding until later in the year, according to Dow Jones Newswires: “President Donald Trump is open to waiting until later this year to secure funding for a wall along the border with Mexico, White House officials said Monday night, in a shift that could clear the way for lawmakers to strike a deal to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday.”
Not waiting for a direct quote of confirmation from Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) immediately pounced on the news in a statement: “It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations… Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues.”
But then taking to Twitter in the morning, Trump insisted he was still pro-wall: “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.”
Assuming the White House indeed is willing to put off the fight over additional wall funding until September now, Trump should be cognizant that Schumer will likely want to filibuster it then, too. A government shutdown will again appear imminent.
In the meantime, a delay will likely build angst among the President’s supporters who are anxious for a win, ire that will be directed at Congressional Republicans and Democrats, whose attention are already turning to the 2018 midterms. That cuts both ways. While Republicans have a majority in the House that could be challenged, in the Senate Democrats have 25 seats up, 10 in states that President Trump won in 2016.
If funding for the wall is not secured by Congress this year, it is they, not Trump, who could pay a mighty price next year for not keeping one of the President’s signature promises. They’d be far better off addressing it now.
In the meantime, as noted by Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning in a statement, the U.S. already has a wall, “which already consists of about 600 miles of walls, fencing and other barriers. This is not a binary choice of wall or no wall. We already have walls.”
What Trump has proposed is to expand existing border security, not to invent it. Part of that was funded by the 2006 Secure Border Act, which, ironically, Schumer voted for. Are the 600 miles of walls and fencing that are already in place “immoral, expensive [and] unwise,” too, Leader Pelosi?
Manning continued, outlining the stakes, “One of the fundamental promises Trump made was to secure the border by expanding the nation’s border wall infrastructure,” adding, “[This is] about whether the Republican Congress can keep the basic promise the President made to secure the border… that united Trump’s electoral coalition and propelled Republicans to majorities in both houses of Congress, and not cave into the temper tantrum of the left still trying to figure out how it lost everything in 2016.”
Manning concluded, “Elections have consequences. In 2016, President Donald Trump and Republicans won majorities in the Electoral College, the House and the Senate, and as a result, it is they, not Democrats, who get to decide what the nation’s priorities are.”
Indeed. Republicans won the election. They are in the majority. It’s time they start acting like it, and build the wall — now. They can wait until September if they wish, but that just means they will hear it from their constituents that the President requested the supplemental and it was Congress that blocked it. We’ll see who the voters blame.