The new year starts with the old shutdown still in effect, and not much progress on resolving it. Late yesterday, the White House announced that Donald Trump had invited leaders from both chambers of Congress to a briefing on border security, which will take place this afternoon. On Twitter, the invitation sounded more like a game-show slogan:
Border Security and the Wall “thing” and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
President Trump invited congressional leaders to the White House for a briefing on border security, the first face-to-face session involving Republicans and Democrats as the partial government shutdown entered its second week.
The briefing will occur one day before Democrats take control of the House and Trump gets his first taste of divided government.
It was unclear whether the Wednesday session would break the budget impasse — in its 11th day Tuesday — as Trump has demanded billions of dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and Democrats have rejected his request. Trump had campaigned on a pledge to build the wall at Mexico’s expense, a proposition Mexican officials called ludicrous.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security are scheduled to brief the top two leaders in each party in the House and the Senate.
Is it Monty Hall time at the White House? Will Nancy Pelosi find that The Price Is Right after this “come on down” call? It’s more likely a chance to make a pitch in private to support Trump’s demand for an effective border barrier system. If so, then CBP has more data points to share with Congress after a clash near the Tijuana crossing:
US Customs and Border Protection says it is investigating an incident at the California border in which agents used tear gas and pepper spray on more than 100 migrants — some of which the agency said threw rocks. https://t.co/6hfryMWn5C pic.twitter.com/pnyNaPJo7S
— New Day (@NewDay) January 2, 2019
US Customs and Border Protection says it is investigating an incident at the California border with Mexico, in which agents used tear gas, pepper spray and smoke as more than 100 migrants tried to enter the country illegally.
Some of the migrants threw rocks as others lifted children over the razor-edged wire late Monday in the San Diego sector, the agency said a statement, which was based on initial reports. The confrontation continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning.
One image distributed by Reuters shows a man covering his mouth as he is surrounded by smoke. Another shows people going over the wall as armed agents stand on the US side.
About 150 migrants approached the fence, but about one-third of the group members turned back into Mexico when they saw Border Patrol agents, CBP estimated.
CNN’s Leyla Santiago claims that the incident will boost those opposed to a wall on the basis that the crackdown on border security has disincentivized normal processing at checkpoints. That’s a rather strange analysis; if these people had a legitimate asylum claim, the increased security makes it even more likely that they would make that application in person at those checkpoints, not try a dangerous stunt like this. They also wouldn’t be throwing rocks. Trump is much more likely to use this as an example of how a barrier system allows CBP to enforce security more effectively.
Don’t get your hopes up for a Monty Hall moment, at least not today. House Democrats won’t make an agreement ahead of Pelosi’s debut tomorrow as the new Speaker. They already plan to pass a clean CR for Homeland Security as their “solution” to end the standoff, a bill that will go nowhere in the Senate or with Trump. Pelosi knows that, but she has to get that bill out of the House tomorrow in order to satisfy her base. After that, perhaps real negotiations will begin. Until then, everything is theater.
Besides, we all know what a deal will have to look like. It will consist of some mix of border-wall funding, DACA normalization, and asylum policy adjustments. That’s the only way both sides can claim a win at this point. The only truly unknown in this battle is just how much posturing both sides have left in them before they get down to actual governance. Best guess — two more years.