If Congress and the White House cannot strike a budget agreement in 11 days, the federal government will shut down. The key barrier to such a deal is Donald Trump’s border wall. With Democrats set to inherit the House in January — and the president’s monument to American xenophobia still unbuilt — Trump has been loath to accept that there still aren’t 60 Senate votes for seizing a bunch of Americans’ private property, so as to stack concrete in the desert.
Democrats are willing to a pay a modicum of tribute to nativist paranoia. Chuck Schumer has offered Trump a $1.3 billion increase in funding for border security measures other than his wall (which is to say, border security measures that are less symbolically fraught, but potentially, more concretely harmful). But Trump insists on at least $5 billion in funds earmarked for his signature structure.
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will head to the White House today for talks with the president. According to Politico, they have no intention of giving an inch: Trump can either have six new appropriation bills, and a yearlong continuing resolution for Homeland Security funding (which would spare speaker Pelosi from having to fight over border policy for a long time), or else, he can have no new appropriation bills, and a yearlong continuing resolution on everything.
Clearly then, the deal-maker-in-chief will have his work cut out for him. Fortunately, our president’s world-renowned negotiating skills are definitely, totally, completely, not up to the challenge. On Tuesday morning, Trump opened talks with an ultimatum: Democrats must fund the wall — unless they don’t want to, as it makes literally no difference either way.
As the president explained in a series of tweets:
Ice, Border Patrol and our Military have done a FANTASTIC job of securing our Southern Border. A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution. We have already built large new sections & fully renovated others, making them like new.
The Democrats, however, for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease. Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way.
I look forward to my meeting with Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi. In 2006, Democrats voted for a Wall, and they were right to do so. Today, they no longer want Border Security. They will fight it at all cost, and Nancy must get votes for Speaker. But the Wall will get built.
People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is! [my emphasis]
The president’s statement is, of course, a ridiculous lie. But if Trump has now decided that he’d be content with an imaginary “win” on the border wall, then perhaps Democrats should entertain broader negotiations. Perhaps, if Schumer and Pelosi agreed to tearfully announce that the president (using his supernatural deal-making skills) had tricked them into paying for the wall personally — and now, America was finally safe again, while their families were ruined — Trump would sign his name to a Dream Act, in recompense.