Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has made it abundantly clear he’s going to do anything to stop President Donald Trump from securing border wall funding. At this point, that means the filibuster and a bunch of ill-tempered, Democratic appearances on those Sunday morning chat shows where the audience consists of political geeks such as myself.
However, I wouldn’t put it past him to chain himself to the White House door, a la Laura Loomer, and refuse to leave until the president acknowledges the error of his ways.
Schumer hasn’t pulled out the handcuffs just yet, but his ultimatums are getting even more, well, ultimatum-y. Now, he not only says he’s not going to give Trump the $5 billion in funding for the wall, he says the president must abandon the wall concept entirely if the government is to reopen.
“Mr. President, President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple,” Schumer said from the Senate floor Saturday.
Schumer, apparently unaware of the irony, called Trump’s position “a destructive, two-week temper tantrum, demanding the American taxpayer pony up for an expensive and ineffective border wall that the president promised Mexico would pay for.”
Yes, Trump’s demanding Americans pony up for a border wall which, um, was a key part of his platform when they voted him in. Schumer, meanwhile, is demanding that no money be spent on the border wall in a house of Congress where his party remains in the minority.
While they have filibuster power over border wall funding, let’s please not pretend he’s representing the will of the people on this issue.
Schumer also said that the Democrats are “open to discussing any proposal as long as they do not include anything for the wall.”
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) December 22, 2018
Right, This is a bit like an alcoholic saying he’s open to discussing any treatment option so long as it doesn’t include not drinking.
The entire shutdown revolves around the fact that Trump has requested funding for the wall. If the elevator pitch of your negotiating position is essentially, “Yeah, you’re not getting what you want, now let’s talk business,” I don’t see things moving in a positive (or any) direction.
Then again, Schumer’s said the wall is off the table so many times that it’s become a kind of mantra.
“I want to be crystal clear — there will be no additional appropriations to pay for the border wall,” Schumer told the Senate on Dec. 13, according to The Daily Caller. “It’s done.”
There are two interrelated problems with Schumer drawing a line in the sand over the wall. The first is that, after November’s election, the cantankerous part of the Democratic base expects him and the rest of the Democrat caucus to deliver on this. There’s no middle ground here, no negotiating with Trump to produce a compromise that gives some funding for a barrier. Anything less than total victory for Schumer on this point can’t be part of the Democrat’s plans.
The second problem is that Trump has made it clear he’s perfectly fine with a partial government shutdown. If the Democrats aren’t going to move, neither are the paychecks for the 420,000 essential government workers nor the 380,000 others who are furloughed.
While I feel sympathy for these workers (except for the 52,000 IRS employees included in the furlough; quite frankly, that number is far too low), if this drags on, the blame oughtn’t be put at Trump’s feet. Schumer promised his very inflamed constituency that there would be not a cent of funding for the wall.
Trump wants $5 billion but has sent out feelers he’s willing to compromise. Schumer, however, can’t compromise. “It’s done” means “it’s done.” If he goes back on it, it’ll be his “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
Say what you will about Donald Trump, this isn’t the GOP of yore. As the president said, he’s “proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country.” Is this the man the Senate Minority leader thinks is going to be putting his tail between his legs as he explains to the American people that, yes, the wall is dead?
We’re less than 48 hours into the partial government shutdown, but if one is to divine anything from Schumer’s words on the Senate floor, this is just the beginning. Maybe it’s time for the Senate minority leader to bring in Laura Loomer as a consultant.
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