On Friday, hours before the Great Government Shutdown of 2018 began, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Donald Trump in a one-on-one meeting that that he was ready to capitulate on the president’s most famous campaign promise: a border wall with Mexico.
The president turned down the deal, and on Tuesday, Schumer pulled his offer.
Politico reports that a day after Democrats agreed to end the impasse by agreeing to reopen the government, Schumer informed the White House through an aide that his proposition was no longer valid. And two Democrats told the outlet that Trump is not going to get a better bargain than the one he already passed up.
During the well-chronicled huddle on Friday, Schumer had reportedly offered to fully fund the border wall, going far beyond any previous Democratic commitments. But in what has become a familiar dynamic, immigration hawks in the White House balked at what seemed to be a favorable deal, protesting, among other things, that the senator’s proposal amounted to “authorizing” money for the wall, rather than “appropriating” it. With that, the shutdown proceeded.
With the fate of 800,000 Dreamers still in limbo ahead of another possible showdown on February 8, sentiment about the wall has shifted markedly among some Democratic lawmakers. Once viewed as a lark that would never come to fruition, the wall is now seen by some — though certainly not all — as a bearable concession they could make in exchange for the security of those covered under DACA.
Most notable is Democratic representative Luis Gutiérrez, who said on Saturday that, in exchange for a deal on Dreamers, “I’ll take a bucket, take bricks, and start building it myself.”
The reality of the situation is that Democrats have only so much leverage to play with, and that a deal to protect Dreamers will almost certainly involve some painful trade-offs, whether it’s wall funding, cuts to legal immigration, or some combination of both. Schumer is, sensibly, not trying to give away the store before new negotiations commence. But it’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to make some hard choices once again.