“If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government.”
That’s what President Trump said to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at a recent meeting in the Oval Office. The discussion between the president and the two leaders centered on funding for the wall and beefing up security at the southern border.
In the days leading up to the meeting, Trump took to social media and pointed out that he has other options when it comes to building the wall between the United States and Mexico. Yes, there might be a government shutdown, but perhaps Trump should take matters into his own hands when it comes to protecting America’s national security.
Using the Military to Build the Wall
President Trump made numerous promises during the 2016 campaign, but most remember his vow to erect a wall between the United States and Mexico. It was part of his tough approach to stemming the flow of illegal aliens into the U.S.
Before the meeting, Trump tweeted:
“People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!”
Pelosi and Schumer both signaled that they would not support a bill that provides funding for the wall. Indeed, Pelosi claimed that building such a barrier would be “immoral.”
Still, Trump seems determined to fulfill his campaign promise of building a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border. And it is clear he believes he can do it without input from the legislative branch. But some GOP lawmakers are hesitant to support such an action.
GOP Lawmakers Have Concerns
This is not the first time Trump and others have suggested that the military should build the wall. It makes sense since Congress does not seem interested in financing a barrier that would drastically decrease the number of illegal immigrants who cross the border. Invoking this option would allow the president to bypass Congress and, with his executive power, fund the wall from the military budget. But some GOP leaders are skeptical of supporting this approach.
…the executive branch would gain significant spending authority.
According to The Hill, Senate GOP sources indicated that there “was a discussion of it,” but there are “a lot of closed doors” when it comes to implementing the order. Some Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns that the executive branch would gain significant spending authority.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) suggested there is uncertainty when it comes to the president repurposing defense funding. “I don’t know if he has the legal authority, and I’m not sure what kind of friction that would create with appropriators around here in future negotiations on other topics,” he said, after acknowledging that Trump might have the authority to redirect military spending.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) predicted that there would be “institutional pushback” against any attempt by the president to utilize military funding. He also argued that it is “better to go through Congress” to pay for the wall.
Build the Wall Already!
Graham is right. Trump will be opposed if he attempts to redirect military funding to build the border wall. Also correct is Graham’s estimation that the most desirable course of action is through Congress.
But both GOP and Democratic lawmakers have made it clear that they will not vote to fund the border wall. The Democrats’ primary objective is to obstruct the president’s agenda at all costs — even if it means a government shutdown. Pelosi and Schumer have indicated that they are willing to sacrifice a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which could open citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Republican lawmakers have shown little interest in supporting a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico.
It is unlikely that Trump will obtain the approval of Congress to secure the U.S. border. Both parties have fallen short when it comes to addressing the illegal immigration issue. In light of their feckless approach to border security, it makes sense for Trump to exercise his executive power and build the wall that he promised. Otherwise, he risks losing the support of his base — and the 2020 election.