If the Democrats aren’t willing to give President Trump the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall all at once, the president says he’s willing to discuss doing it in several easy installments.
According to Fox News, the White House said Thursday they would only be willing to discuss a continuing resolution to keep the government open if it included a “large down payment on the wall.”
The news came as the Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer began negotiations to see if they could find a solution to the impasse after competing plans from both parties came to the Senate floor.
Both of their proposals didn’t pass the 60-vote threshold needed to break a filibuster, however. Whatever the solution, the White House said either one would need some money toward the wall, although not all of what the White House requested would have to be delivered up front.
“Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer are meeting now to see whether or not they can work out of the deadlock,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said late Thursday.
“As was made clear to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the three-week CR (continuing resolution) would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall.”
Given the language, one would assume that further border wall funding would be negotiated down the road — hence the “down payment” language.
The GOP plan was similar to what the president had proposed during a speech on Saturday — the full $5.7 billion for the wall, albeit with concessions on immigration-related issues. Democrats, meanwhile, offered a temporary re-opening of the government until Feb. 8 to allow some time to bargain but no money for the wall.
The Republican plan failed with only 50 votes for and 47 against, with several Republicans defecting over perceived issues with the concessions offered on immigration.
“If this had been a vote to begin debate on a deal to end the shutdown, I would have happily voted yes,” GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said.
“But this was a vote to end debate on a bill that I believe is fundamentally flawed. In fact, after specifically asking for assurances that we would be allowed to offer amendments, no assurances were given. This bill as is simply does not do enough to reform our immigration system or address the crisis at our southern border.”
“I could not support the bill because it gives legal status to illegal aliens without first securing our borders, implementing e-verify, and ending chain migration — all of which would eliminate the incentives for more illegal immigration,” Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, another Republican defector, said. “I will continue to work with the president and my colleagues to reopen the government and secure the border.”
The Democrat bill garnered 52 yes votes and 44 no votes, with all Democrats voting yes and six Republicans — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander — crossing the aisle to support it.
Both bills, however, fell far short — and after the votes, McClatchy D.C. reported, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer “met briefly in McConnell’s Capitol office Thursday after Republican and Democratic efforts to end the stalemate died on the Senate floor.”
“We’re talking,” Schumer told reporters after he left.
Pelosi, however, dismissed the idea of a “large down payment” as “not a reasonable agreement.”
“I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about,” Pelosi said of the president.
And therein lies the problem with Pelosi’s position: The White House has made it clear they’re willing to negotiate on more than one occasion, whether it be covertly or, as in this case, overtly. At least on Pelosi’s part, she’s maintained steadfast that no deal will ever involve a single cent for the wall — and if the facts support the use for some new barrier at the southern border, well, she rejects your facts.
Eventually — for those of us who aren’t dug in to one position or another — people are going to judge who’s responsible for the stalemate on who’s willing to compromise. Schumer at least says he’s “talking,” although about what remains to be seen. In Pelosi’s case, talking appears to be out of the question; reopen the government under her conditions or it doesn’t get reopened at all, is what she seems to be saying.
That’s going to be an awfully tough sell the more the partial shutdown drags on.
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