The clock is ticking on that three-week temporary budget deal to reopen the government. While the media are lauding Speaker Pelosi for her toughness in refusing to negotiate with President Trump on border security and claiming he caved in and gave up, the truth is that we are in a reset period, a mere reshuffling of the deck. But the game isn’t over. Here’s what’s happened already:
Today at 1 p.m., a bipartisan conference committee that includes appropriations committee members from both houses of Congress started working on a budget proposal. Sen. Richard Shelby reminded the media that the Democrats said once the government was reopened, they would negotiate in good faith on “significant investments in border security, including a physical barrier,” so we’ll see if they will really put any money where their mouths were. Fellow Senate Appropriations Committee member Lamar Alexander said this is a needed chance to get the issue away from being a public fight between the Speaker and the President and into the hands of Congress members who’ve known for years that we need comprehensive border security.
It might help motivate the Democrats to know that a recent poll found that in House districts Trump won but Democrats now hold, voters support Trump on strengthening border security.
Also, when the issue gets away from the public spotlight and the overheated partisan rhetoric about walls being “immoral” (what about roofs? Are they immoral, or only a bit naughty?), maybe some realism and intelligence will return. As Alexander noted, the previous four Presidents worked with Congress to build 654 miles of physical barrier along our 2,000-mile southern border. Pelosi voted for that, and one of the most effective walls is in her own state, separating San Diego and Tijuana. Trump is asking for only 234 more miles of what we’ve already being building for 20 years, but because he’s “TRUUUUUMP!!!,” suddenly, that’s racist and immoral.
Alexander is optimistic that behind closed doors, at least, politicians will be able to act like adults. Let’s hope he’s right.
But if not, and they don’t produce a bill that both sides can support, then this can all start again in three weeks. By that time, the rising media hysteria over laid-off government workers will have dissipated. Oh, and there’s this:
The political standoff being on hold, Pelosi ended her attempt to block Trump’s State of the Union Address and sent him his invitation to the House for next Tuesday, February 5th. He responded with surprising grace, saying it was his “great honor” to accept, adding, “We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve! I look forward to seeing you on the 5th.”
I can’t help thinking that much of that SOTU will focus on the state of our border security, and that he will invite guests whose families have been victims of criminal illegal immigrants. It will be a golden opportunity to make his case directly to the American people and to display to the nation those Congress members who put partisanship ahead of national security.
Trump is signaling that he’s being reasonable and giving the committee members a chance, but he’s not giving up on his demands for border security.
So far, all signs indicate that Trump didn’t gave up the game, as so many gleeful liberals and dejected Republicans assume. I think he just knew when to fold ‘em, and he’s now dealing himself a stronger hand. Stay tuned, and don’t be surprised if some wild cards get played over the next few weeks.