Centrist Dems preparing letter to Pelosi calling on her to give Trump a vote on the wall

My God. They’re about to cave.

…Or this is a PR stunt, possibly with encouragement from Pelosi herself, to provide a bit of cover to the most vulnerable members of her caucus. Pelosi’s baggage wasn’t heavy enough to weigh Democrats down in the midterms but no one knows yet what 2020 will look like. Anyone who disliked her before will dislike her more after this shutdown fiasco is over. Centrist Dems who have to worry about those voters are already looking for ways to create a little distance.


And this is a very small ask. In fact, Trump’s as likely to reject it as Pelosi is.

The group, led by Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, is asking the California Democrat to offer Trump a vote on his border wall sometime in February if he signs a bill reopening the federal government, according to a draft copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO…

In the letter, the centrist Democrats ask Pelosi to allow the appropriate panels to consider Trump’s wall request after the government is open and ask Pelosi to “guarantee” a vote for the funding package on the House floor by the end of February.

The lawmakers also say the measure should be open to amendment to allow lawmakers to protect Dreamers and those currently in Temporary Protected Status — ensuring that Democrats would be able to put their stamp on any immigration and border security measure.

Trump ends the shutdown up front and all he gets in return is an … eventual vote on the wall in the House? He’ll lose that vote, of course, probably badly. There might be a few Democratic defectors but only a few — certainly not enough to hand Trump some sort of moral victory over Pelosi. He might lose a few Republicans as well. Why would he agree to this proposal?

And if Pelosi and Schumer are serious when they say they won’t reward “hostage-taking” by negotiating with POTUS before the government is re-opened, why would they reward him by agreeing in principle to a House vote on funding the wall before he’s agreed to re-open it?


The point of this offer, I assume, is simply to start the wheels turning for some sort of Democratic counteroffer to Trump’s new “BRIDGE Act for wall” proposal. Democrats will vote down a clean bill that would provide money for the wall, of course, but maybe they could cobble something together via the amendment process that would mirror Trump’s offer while upping the ante — say, a full DREAM amnesty in return for wall funding.

To believe that would work, though, you need to believe that (a) Trump would consider “DREAM for wall” knowing how the Coulterites would react and (b) Pelosi and Schumer are merely driving a hard bargain right now in refusing to put up money for the wall. They aren’t. They’re not trying to extract concessions from Trump. They’re not holding out for him to put DREAM on the table or whatever. The entire point of this standoff is to deny him the thing he most wants. An amendment process aimed at forging a Democratic counteroffer to “BRIDGE for wall” completely misses the point. But the centrist Dems floating it know that. This letter they’re preparing isn’t aimed at Pelosi. It’s aimed at their constituents, to show them that they really are trying everything to end the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the SOTU drama continues:

President Donald Trump is preparing for two different State of the Union speeches – one a more traditional address delivered to Congress in the House chamber or some other location in D.C., the other prepared for a political rally at a location outside of Washington, D.C. that has yet to be determined, according to multiple sources familiar with the planning…

As part of the ongoing political tit-for-tat between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Republicans are encouraging Trump to force Pelosi to officially disinvite him, by suggesting the president announce he still intends to deliver the State of the Union from the House chamber, according to Republican sources involved in the discussions.


Doing the SOTU at a political rally would be a terrible idea. The clever thing about Trump wanting to show up at the Capitol to deliver the speech as scheduled is that it places him for once in the role of statesman and Pelosi in the role of juvenile norm-buster. Why forfeit that dynamic by having Trump run off somewhere to riff about “Cryin’ Chuck” or whatever in front of a crowd of MAGA fans? If he can’t get access to the House or Senate to do the speech he should do it from the White House. Use the trappings of the office to drive home to viewers that he’s not speaking about the border and the shutdown as a populist or a partisan, he’s speaking as the president. It’ll underline her disrespect in not letting him address Congress. And if he’s worried about not being able to speak in front of a friendly crowd, that’s easily solved. Invite Republican congressmen to attend the speech in the East Room or whatever. Substituting a rally for the SOTU would only deepen the sense that this is all partisan blowhardery on both sides.

Exit question: If Mexico is “paying for the wall” in the form of amorphous trade benefits to the U.S. under the new NAFTA deal, what about the fact that the shutdown has now cost the country about as much as the amount of wall funding that Trump is asking for? Doesn’t that mean Americans are “paying for it”?


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David Strom 5:21 PM on September 22, 2023
David Strom 3:21 PM on September 22, 2023