Prepare to be surprised – or not. House Democrats are getting ready to put forth a counteroffer to the GOP’s budget proposal that would provide funding for a border wall, and their suggested legislation won’t allow for the construction of a single steel slat.
Shortly before the government shutdown ended, President Trump put forth an offer that would provide a solution for immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and those who benefit from Temporary Protected Status (TPS). His proposal would also provide $5.7 billion for the construction of a physical barrier on the southern border. Before the president publicly announced his offer, the Democrats rejected it, and their counteroffer makes it clear that they will not support a wall for any reason.
The Democrats’ offer, if passed, will actually cut funding for the wall, eliminating $1.34 billion for fencing along the southwest border.
Democrats Eliminate Barrier Funding
Previously, the Democrats were willing to negotiate proposals related to the fencing, and at one point they even supported the idea of a border wall. Earlier in the year they actually offered to provide funding for a fence, though the amount fell far short of the $5.7 billion Trump requested. Now, it appears the Democrats have had a change of heart. Democrat leaders have already stated that they will not provide any funding for a border wall, even though several of the party’s lawmakers have expressed a willingness to grant Trump his border wall funding in exchange for other concessions.
Congress is under a February 15 deadline to present Trump with a bill to sign, or the government may proceed into another partial shutdown. This means they have until February 8 to come up with something, in order to leave enough time to draft the bill and pass it in both chambers of Congress.
So what will happen next? Trump has indicated that he will seek other options – such as declaring a national emergency – to get the wall built. It appears that the time for such action is rapidly approaching.
Is It Time For a National Emergency?
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is now known as Lindsey 2.0 after his blistering rebuke of Senate Democrats who attacked Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with uncorroborated accusations, took to Twitter to make his frustration known. “House Democrats’ border barrier/wall offer is PATHETIC,” he tweeted, with his newfound willingness to stand up to his political opponents. “I hoped that Democrats would make good faith effort to strike a deal on border barrier/wall, DACA, and TPS. Unfortunately, it seems they hate @realDonaldTrump more than they want to solve problems.”
Graham then urged the GOP to support the president in declaring a national emergency: “Republicans need to get behind President Trump emergency declaration to build wall/barrier. Looking like he has no other option.”
It is not clear if the Republican Party will support Trump in the event that he declares a national emergency; some have stated that they aren’t crazy about the idea, but they will not oppose Trump if he decides to move in that direction. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) stated that she supports a physical barrier, but that the president should “tread lightly” when considering an emergency declaration. Senator John Thune (R-SD) said that he would prefer to “get this resolved in the old fashion way which is two sides sit down at the table and work out a negotiated agreement.”
On the other hand, Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN) voiced her support for a national emergency in a radio interview: “I do think that this is a much greater crisis that we’ve seen in the past at the border. So if the president deems that a national emergency, then yes, I would support that.”
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) also expressed his support of declaring a national emergency. “I have read the law,’ he said, “It would not be frivolous if he does it.”
As the deadline approaches, it appears the Democrats have already made their position clear: No funding for the wall. All that remains to be seen is whether Trump will follow through on his vow to declare a national emergency to build the barrier. Either way, this battle is far from over, and both sides have shown that they are willing to go the distance to win this standoff.