Yesterday we learned that the President would today be making what’s being billed as a major announcement about the crisis at the border and the shutdown. John Sexton offered some of the results of the guessing game as to what the announcement might be last night, but thus far the details have been surprisingly resistant to leaks. Of course, when it comes to predicting what the President might say at any given moment, the only safe advice is to buckle your seatbelts and expect the unexpected. (Associated Press)
Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.
After days of bitter clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was unclear if the twin developments represented serious steps toward resolving the nasty partisan fight or posturing. But they were the first tangible signs of movement in a dispute that has caused a partial government shutdown, which Saturday was entering its record 29th day.
Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.
A couple of thoughts on the announcement follow, but I first wanted to highlight that final sentence from the Associated Press because it’s fairly typical of the media message this year. Their position is that “Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion” for the wall “has prompted the shutdown.”
That may be true. But it would be equally true to say, “Democrats refusal to provide $5.7 billion for border construction that they previously supported has prompted the shutdown.” Funny how that works, eh? Another point to ponder is that nothing specific has leaked out yet. That tells me that Trump hasn’t even told his own inner circle. In fact, he may still be working it out in his own head.
With that said, I’ll share a couple of observations about today’s announcement. Nearly every observer out there is now convinced that the President won’t be announcing a national emergency to fund the wall today. That was pretty much my opinion also. Why change course now after drawing hard lines in the sand? But if our experience with Donald Trump has taught us anything we should realize that as soon as we’re all sure he’s going to do one thing he does something else entirely. With that in mind, the odds of a national emergency being declared just went up.
But if we stick to the assumption that today’s news won’t fall that way, what else does the President have to offer? I’m sure he’d be happy to accept Pelosi’s offer of funding for more immigration judges and border monitoring technology, but that doesn’t get him the wall. Has the President left the Democrats to stew in their own juices long enough that he’s willing to put something on the table? If so, the most likely deal sweetener he could throw in right now would be some sort of DACA fix, possibly including permanent legal resident status for the dreamers.
If Pelosi turned that down over a relatively paltry $5.7B in wall funding she would be inviting the wolves to her own door. But the other half of this equation is to consider whether that’s actually a card that the President has in his hand. He can say he would support a DACA fix all day long but if he can’t get the GOP leadership and a majority of the members to go along with it, it’s all for nothing.
My prediction: Another demand that Chuck and Nancy come back to the table and negotiate in good faith. And being a dealmaker, Trump will put something outrageous on the table that he thinks will cripple Pelosi if she turns it down. What that “something” might be remains an unknown.