No deal: Schumer yanks offer of funding for border wall

C’mon, did anyone expect otherwise? Knowing that he was going to get clubbed by liberals for caving on the shutdown, the least Schumer could do to save a little face and soothe the progressive id would be to tear up the offer he made to Trump last Friday to carve out a few billion for the wall. Democrats just got thwarted on a DREAM amnesty; at a minimum, Schumer’s now obliged to thwart Trump on his big ask too.

Besides, leaving money for the wall on the table as a new round of negotiations begins would have been terrible bargaining strategy. Republicans would have treated that as Schumer’s baseline offer and sought to build on it by demanding additional concessions. With wall funding momentarily off limits, Schumer can “reset” the terms and force them to make some concessions of their own to entice him to put it back in the mix.

The Senate minority leader, through an aide, informed the White House on Monday that he was retracting the offer he made last week to give Trump well north of the $1.6 billion in wall funding Trump had asked for this year, according to two Democrats. And now they say Trump will simply not get a better deal than that on his signature campaign promise.

Schumer “took it off,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “He called the White House yesterday and said it’s over.”

In the now-infamous cheeseburger summit last Friday with Trump, Schumer offered a large increase in border wall spending as a condition for a broader deal to help Dreamers. But after that offer was rebuffed — prompting the three-day government shutdown — the president has now “missed an opportunity to get the wall,” one Democratic aide said.

Meh, it’s a bluff. If a DREAM amnesty happens, funding for the wall will be the absolute minimum that the GOP demands in return. In fact, House Republicans are busy today trying to force a “reset” of Republican demands as well: The Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus with more than 150 members, announced this morning that it’ll back Bob Goodlatte’s bill, which reads like a border-hawk wishlist — E-Verify, cuts to legal immigration, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, you name it. The chances that Democrats will agree to that are zero; in fact, the chances that *Senate Republicans* will agree to it are practically zero as well, since all it would take is Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, and one other immigration squish to vote in opposition to kill it even without a filibuster. But the RSC wants a vote on the bill in the House, where it’s likely to pass.

The glass-half-full view of that is that passage would maximize border hawks’ leverage in the next round of negotiations with Democrats by setting a baseline of robust enforcement. The glass-half-empty view is that passage would be destined to sink any bipartisan deals, even with Trump’s approval, because a compromise bill will pale by comparison. The Goodlatte bill will essentially operate as a reminder to populists of all the things Trump *could* be demanding, but isn’t, to tighten America’s borders when he starts negotiating with Schumer again. That’ll make life hard for him and McConnell.

As for Schumer, dopey progressives who refuse to grasp how little leverage he had in the shutdown standoff are planning to protest — at his home in New York City:

A trio of progressive organizations, including CREDO, is hosting an event on Tuesday night that will bring activists to the front lawn of Schumer’s home in Brooklyn. They are also in the process of printing signs for the event which read “Worst negotiator in Washington. And Brooklyn. #SchumerSellout,” superimposed on an image of the Minority Leader’s face.

“What we see strategically is that the fish rots from the top,” said Murshed Zaheed, political director and vice president of CREDO…

“We’re targeting Dems who voted for this CR (continuing resolution),” Angel Padilla, policy director for Indivisible, a resistance organization formed in response to Trump’s presidency, told The Daily Beast. “They sold out Dreamers. They failed to stand up to Trump’s white supremacy. They had the support of the grassroots and they caved. It also demonstrates that Democrats remain terrified of immigration. And they will continue to run from it.”

Thought experiment: Would the shutdown standoff have played out the same way if it were January 2020 instead of January 2018? The Senate map looks great for Democrats two years from now, with GOP incumbents forced to play defense in various purplish states. This year, though, it’s the opposite: With a few exceptions like Nevada and Arizona, most of the key races are being fought over Democrat-held seats in states won by Trump. Liberals shrieking about Schumer’s sellout are cutting him no slack for making a prudent move in ending the shutdown early: Knowing that Democrats have momentum in the polls, knowing that public reaction to shutdowns is unpredictable (especially in red states), he decided to take a knee and preserve the party’s lead rather than throw downfield by forcing a protracted shutdown over DREAM. He’s worried about those red-state Dems — and even if he wasn’t, those red-state Dems are worried enough about themselves that there was no guarantee they would have hung with Schumer day after day as a shutdown played out.

If McCaskill and Tester and Heitkamp and Donnelly, etc etc, ended up crossing the aisle and voting with Republicans to fund the government, progressives might have stupidly blamed them instead of Schumer, a potential disaster in November given how close their races are likely to be. Instead Schumer, whose own seat in New York is safe, became the lightning rod for liberal discontent. He failed, but at least he minimized the damage to his own caucus in doing so. For the moment.