The expectation is that they have to do something. After two years of constantly putting off funding for President Trump’s top 2016 campaign promise, Congress is being forced to act on funding a wall on our porous southern border. Time’s almost up for Congress to fund the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, with a December 7 deadline looming, and they will have to face the wall issue, under threat of government shutdown.
Trump swallowed a bitter pill in March when he signed a monstrous $1.3 trillion spending bill into law that somehow couldn’t manage to squeeze in border wall funding. At the time, he vowed to “never sign another bill like this again.” It appears the president is now ready to duke it out over the wall, as he recently told reporters:
“I think probably, if I was ever going to do a shutdown over border security, when you look at the caravans, when you look at the mess, when you look at the people coming in, this would be a very good time to do a shutdown.”
With the stakes being far lower, as some 75% of the government has already been funded via bills passed earlier this year, now is the ideal time for the president to stand firm. Neither political party wants any role in even a partial shutdown. This gives Trump the leverage he needs to pressure Congress. That is, until Republicans kick in their “Lovable Losers act” once again.
Wish We Could
“I don’t know that I see an answer after the midterms in terms of getting money for the wall either,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), head of the House Freedom Caucus, said in September. “Here we are almost two years into an administration, and significant funding has not happened … Most conservative members are serious about it. I’m not so sure about some of the others.”
That “gee, we sure would like to do it but…” vibe was echoed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who expressed the ridiculous fear that our bloated, empire-strength military apparatus would suffer if the wall were funded. “Some things are reachable and some things aren’t,” The Washington Post reports Shelby told Trump. “I’m committed to securing the borders, whatever it takes in this country; it’s something we haven’t done. But I’m also committed to funding the government.”
And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) are both promising a “lively” “fight” over wall funding, these are the same two establishment stalwarts who have dragged their feet on the issue for a full two years while Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.
“We are on the same page,” Ryan said in January 2017 about funding a $12-15 billion wall as Trump entered the White House. “We are going to finance the Secure Fence Act,” Ryan vowed, referring to the 2006 law that authorized construction of a security barrier on our southern border. It’s nearly two years later and not only are we still waiting but we’re hoping for a financial outlay that will likely be only a third of what Ryan and McConnell once promised, and perhaps even less.
“We will figure out how to do it in December,” Ryan said in October. “I can’t speak to what the outcome will be, only that the effort is there,” he limply asserted.
Coming Up Small
Does that wet noodle of a response sound like a man preparing to go out in a blaze of glory on behalf of an issue to which we all know he is personally opposed? Ryan is retiring from Congress and ready to cash in with the Swamp establishment he has served so faithfully for so long. Expect nothing from him and those Republican members of Congress who still orbit his gravitational field.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is pushing a $23.4 billion bill to fully fund the wall. Even administration officials realize it has no chance of passing.
Why this should prove so impossible when it was the galvanizing issue that propelled Trump into the White House is galling. But if Trump holds firm, and congressional Republicans pay lip service to avoid angering the voter base that so many of them clearly despise, perhaps a compromise can be reached. And these same two-faced Republicans will take a victory bow, even if the result turns out to be a far cry from what is truly needed to fully secure our border.
“There’s probably an opportunity to boost border security in general, but there’s no way, nobody here is going to vote for a wall,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), the Los Angeles Times reports. “Twenty-five billion dollars for a wall? No way, that ain’t happening. Five billion, who knows, possibly.”
That sounds like a man who knows he doesn’t have a lot to worry about on the other side of the aisle.
“We’re going to do the best we can to try to achieve the president’s priorities and hopefully we will not be headed down that path [to a shutdown],” McConnell said in October. God bless ’em. The GOP establishment tries so hard. But they never quite succeed in enacting the will of the people who elect them. Funny how that keeps happening.