It was the chant that echoed throughout Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign: “Build that wall!”
But even after he cleared the hurdle of getting elected, Trump had to know that getting a wall along our southern border wasn’t going to be easy from a Congress either resigned or eager to allow unchecked immigration.
It’s little surprise that a year and change into Trump’s administration, funding for the wall remains elusive. However, Trump has proven before he’s not the kind of man that forgets — and if he has his way, Congress won’t be going home for break until they provide funding for the “big, beautiful wall.”
In a tweet Saturday, Trump proposed that if Congress couldn’t get funding worked out for his signature infrastructure project, as well as confirm more of his nominees, they should stay on Capitol Hill during the traditional August recess.
The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME. Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2018
“The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME,” the president wrote.
“Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!”
The government is currently remaining open due to a huge $1.3 trillion March omnibus bill, which should keep the gaping maw of the federal government fed until the end of September. Sometime before then, Congress needs to send the president another funding bill unless it wants the federal government to grind to a halt.
While the omnibus included $1.6 billion in border security funding, that’s certainly not going to make much of a dent in the construction of the wall — nor, indeed, was it intended to be sufficient for that purpose, thanks to the fact that Republicans usually seem to think that a compromise on the budget means more or less listening to the Democrats on almost everything.
Unlike in March, Trump has indicated he would consider vetoing a spending bill that didn’t include funding for the border wall. Given that immigration and border security hasn’t really been on Congress’ radar in recent weeks, that ought to be concerning. In fact, little progress has been made on either since the January Schumer shutdown, which means another shutdown could be looming in the near future.
At a rally last month in Michigan, Trump told the crowd he wanted a great deal more in the budget for border security, or else he said the government was heading for closure.
“We have to have borders, and we have to have them fast,” Trump said. “And we need security. We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got $1.6 billion. We come up again on Sept. 28th, and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”
As for nominees, while Trump hasn’t pushed to fill positions for some jobs he considers superfluous, even PolitiFact noted that Trump’s charges of obstructionism were “half-true” — a relatively high rating for PolitiFact, given the liberal “fact-checking” site’s enmity toward anything related to the president.
The New York Times pointed out that one of the most contentious areas in terms of nominees is when it comes to the federal courts, where senators from Democrat states are trying to use so-called “blue slips” to stop nominees from receiving a hearing.
Blue slips are a Senate courtesy in which senators from the nominee’s home state are asked to approve or disapprove of the potential judge. In the case of Ryan Bounds, a nominee from Oregon, Democrat Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden refused to return their blue slips to stall his nomination, which has been in the works since last year.
Senate Judicial Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has decided to push ahead with the nominee anyway, much to the chagrin of Merkley and Wyden.
That said, while Bounds’ case has gotten a lot of attention, there are still 174 seats on the federal bench that are either currently open or will be open in the near future. You can bet the Democrats are going to be slow-walking those nominees, as well.
A president can’t force Congress to remain in session during the August break if no deal is reached, but by floating the idea, it’s possible that he can influence some decision-makers at the top levels.
Washington is a dismally hot city in August, one that makes you increasingly aware you’re in a swamp that’s literal as well as figurative. If there’s any way Trump can get a deal out of Congress, forcing them to stay in town when the weather’s at its worst may just be the method to do it.
Now if only he can figure out how to get Mexico to pay for it.
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