Trump: “We Have Reached a Deal.”
President Donald Trump has announced that he has reached a deal that will open the federal government for three weeks, until February 15. This means that the president has landed the ball firmly back in the Democrats’ court. Trump has asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to hold an immediate vote.
Should leading Dems decide to backtrack on their commitments to negotiate after this, does it leave the president wide open to declare the national emergency he has been threatening all along? And is he right to do so?
In a move that stunned almost everyone, the president spoke as if the Democrats in Congress had already agreed to his proposal. “Walls should not be controversial,” the president announced before citing Israel’s success in reducing illegal immigration. “No security plan works without a wall, it just doesn’t happen.”
…one side is playing checkers while the other plays chess.
Trump then went on to reiterate the act that he proposed last week, focusing on criminal enterprises, human traffickers, and the dangers of coyotes running with impunity through places that are not legal points of entry. He painted a vivid picture of bad people duct taping women and transporting these abused souls, racing across the desert.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), speaking with CBSN, was not convinced that the president would ultimately be successful. He said the possibility of another lengthy shutdown would show that Trump had not “learned the lesson and the pain of the last 35 days.”
When asked whether he would back a bill that provided funding for an actual wall, Swalwell’s answer was short and to the point: No. And this will be the likely reaction of many Democrats. Some will speculate that President Trump has folded on the issue of border security and that the most he can hope for is another lengthy shutdown that eats away at his fragile approval ratings. But this ignores the fact that one side is playing checkers while the other plays chess.
Put Up or Shut Up
Behind this deal is a clear threat. The president talked pointedly about the exact crime numbers, the costs – both financial and human – of illegal immigration, the drugs that kill more than 70,000 Americans a year … he not-so-subtly called this a “National Emergency.”
Trump stated that if a wall is not forthcoming, he would either look at shutting down the government once again, or go for a more “nuclear” option.
The situation is very, very clear. If Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) don’t get behind Trump on the border wall, he will declare this a national emergency and build it anyway. The only question remaining is whether the recalcitrant Democrats can understand it.