He won’t have to work hard. It is a victory of a sort:
A Republican bid to keep the government open past Friday includes no new money for the construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to several congressional aides familiar with ongoing talks.
GOP leaders submitted the new offer Tuesday afternoon in an effort to appease Democrats, whose votes are needed to avert a shutdown of federal agencies, several House and Senate aides said.
However, Republicans also insisted on increases in border security and defense spending, including money to repair existing fencing and new surveillance technology to patrol the nearly 2,000-mile border. Democrats have indicated that they would support such appropriations so long as no money goes toward an actual wall.
The standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the wall is more of a political fight than a policy fight. Democrats don’t want to hand Trump a win on his big populist policy proposal or else they’ll be lambasted by the “Resistance,” but they’re willing to give him money for other, lower-profile border-security measures. As such, Trump can say tomorrow, they’re the ones who caved. Our border, which is already stronger than it was four months ago, will get even stronger with this new money and meanwhile the wall will built … eventually. Sometime in his first term, he says in the clip below. Plenty of time. No pressure.
I wonder how long it’ll be before he starts nudging his base not to focus so much on the wall, which after all is just a means to the end of reducing illegal immigration, and to focus on the end itself instead. If border crossings tick down steadily through the first two years of his term, how many Trump voters will care in 2018 whether the wall has been built or not? It’s fun for critics to needle him about breaking one of his biggest promises, but if he’s tightening the border through other means then he’s doing the job he was sent to do.
Speaking of political fights, Ted Cruz has an idea for how to pay for the wall: The Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act, or, er, EL CHAPO Act. Seize the assets of drug lords like El Chapo and apply the money to the wall. Is that bill likely to pass? No. Is that bill likely to help Cruz with his reelection effort? Yeah, surely. And the people running his campaign website know it.