On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced an agreement between Republicans and Democrats in Congress to temporarily reopen the government without funding for a border wall.
Trump said he would sign a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels for a few weeks without the additional $5.7 billion he’s requested as a down payment to construct parts of the border wall. He alluded to the legal authority to declare a national emergency to build the wall without new appropriations from Congress but indicated that he will not take that action today.
“I am very proud to announce today that we have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government,” Trump said. “I have a very powerful alternative, but I didn’t want to use it at this time. Hopefully, it will be unnecessary.”
“In a short while, I will sign a bill to reopen our government for three weeks until February 15,” he announced. The president said he’s asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring this legislation to the floor of the Senate immediately.
The president also said lawmakers have agreed to form a bipartisan conference committee to review requests from the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies for additional border security, including physical barriers on the border.
“We can show all Americans and people all around the world that both political parties are united when it comes to protecting our country and protecting our people,” Trump said.
Why would Democrats listen to a committee report on border security after they’ve already shown they won’t listen to President Trump, the DHS, and the Border Patrol agents who say a wall is necessary to secure the border? Trump is reopening the government without a win on border security or any sort of leverage to hold over the Democrats to force compromise on a wall.
What reopening the government does do is remove Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s excuse for disinviting Trump from delivering the State of the Union address, giving the president an opportunity to make his case for the wall next week. But Donald Trump is the president of the United States. If he wanted to give a big speech to make the case for border security, he didn’t need to give in to Pelosi’s sniping. Trump should have taken the initiative and delivered a speech elsewhere, highlighting that Pelosi and the Democrats were keeping the government shut down to oppose policies they’ve already voted for. But he didn’t do that.
Instead, Trump will reopen the government without a clear plan to get Pelosi to fund the wall. What’s going to change in three weeks? There’s no pressure on Congress to compromise if federal workers are getting paid, and given that we just survived a monthlong shutdown and Trump’s poll numbers tanked, what do Pelosi and Schumer care if the government closes again? And don’t forget about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the Senate Republicans, several of whom opposed shutting down the government in the first place. Does anyone trust McConnell go along with another government shutdown after the first one failed to get wall funding?
President Trump concluded his remarks by referring to the border crisis as an “emergency.” So this all seems to be setting up a national emergency declaration. But suppose he does that and federal courts declare such a move to be illegal. Is President Trump prepared to defy the courts to build a wall in the absence of action from Congress? And if he cannot build the wall in his first term as president, when he started with full Republican control of government, what does that say about his ability to lead?
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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