Hoyer retreating? Border barriers are now "part of the solution"

Give the #2 House Democrat credit for a little honesty — and for defying 69% of his party, according to this morning’s Emerson poll. And credit him with even more honesty in rebuking Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that a border wall is “immoral.” Just don’t credit him with a clear answer last night to Neil Cavuto as to whether he’s ready to vote to fund the border wall as a way to end the government shutdown:

Hoyer appeared on Fox News’ “Your World,” where he told host Neil Cavuto that he does not think that President Donald Trump will get any Democrats to support his immigration proposal. He did acknowledge, however, that a wall along the southern border is part of the solution, appearing to distance himself from some of his Democratic colleagues.

“Would you, Steny Hoyer, be open—you yourself, be open for wall funding?” Cavuto asked.

“Look, I think physical barriers are part of the solution,” Hoyer responded.

That’s the first time that Hoyer has hinted during the shutdown that he’d be amenable to some spending on border barriers. Last week he admitted that barriers “work in some places,” but still said that he remained opposed to building more of them. Now, suddenly, they’re “part of the solution.” That centrist effort among House Democrats might actually be paying some dividends, or perhaps Hoyer realizes that knee-jerk opposition to a barrier system that Customs and Border Protection has explicitly supported won’t play well in the long run.

Neil Cavuto pressed Hoyer on whether he agrees with Pelosi that a border wall is “immoral.” It depends on the purpose, Hoyer notes, but says “that’s not the issue” in this case:

“Look, I think it depends upon what a wall is used for whether it is moral or immoral. If it’s protecting people, it’s moral. If it’s imprisoning people, it may well be immoral,” Hoyer said. “That’s not the issue. We want border security. We want to make sure that people who come into the United States of America are authorized to do so and we know they come in. We don’t want contraband. We don’t want drugs coming in. We don’t want dangerous people coming into the country. So we’re for border security.”

Well, could’ve fooled us. If a border wall is not “immoral” and barriers are “part of the solution,” then … how did we get here in the first place? Why didn’t Pelosi and Hoyer negotiate some level of barrier funding in exchange for concessions on their agenda items before funding ran out before Christmas? For that matter, why aren’t they negotiating on that basis now?

We know why, of course, but Pelosi made sure to remind her caucus of it this morning:

That message may have come in response to Hoyer’s interview with Cavuto yesterday. Hoyer did argue that Democrats shouldn’t negotiate during a shutdown lest the precedent get set that “hostaging” works, just previous to the start of the clip above. However, they weren’t negotiating on border-wall funding before the shutdown either, not even while knowing that it’s “part of the solution.” Retreating on that point makes the Democrats look like obstructionists for obstructionism’s sake alone. Small wonder Pelosi told her caucus to essentially stop engaging on anything other than her talking points.