While the leftist media still basks in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “victory” over President Trump in the government shutdown battle, which ended on January 25, another shutdown is set to begin on February 15 if the impasse on President Trump’s proposed border wall cannot be reached. And, for now, the two sides seem to be as entrenched as ever.
This past week, President Trump called congressional negotiations on his proposed border barrier “a waste of time.” The president told the New York Times in an interview published Thursday that Speaker Pelosi “is hurting our country very badly by doing what she’s doing, and, ultimately, I think I’ve set the table very nicely.”
Was the president referring to a possible upcoming emergency declaration in order to fund the wall without congressional approval? We’ll have to wait and see. Some suggest that the president doesn’t even need to make an emergency declaration to act unilaterally on the border wall.
But those unilateral methods of building the border wall are fraught with the near certainty of endless legal challenges, which could hold up construction for years. The better (and more constitutional) way is to secure funding from Congress.
Meanwhile, in a rambling and incoherent press conference on Thursday, Speaker Pelosi was able (barely) to make her point about the wall in an answer to a reporter’s direct questioning about it. “There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation,” the speaker said.
While Speaker Pelosi ruled out a wall, she did pledge funding for other border-security measures. She referenced an Appropriations Committee statement about border security, saying, “They talked about 1,000 new customs officers, new imaging technology, and critical repairs at the land ports of entry.”
All good things, Madame Speaker, but close to useless unless you can filter incoming migrants to the ports of entry. That’s where the wall comes in.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan committee of 17 congressional delegates (nine Democrat, eight Republican) is trying to hammer out an agreement on the border issue prior to the February 15 deadline. Early signs are that Democrats may be willing to bend just a bit on the concept of a border wall, just not the reality of it. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third ranking House Democrat, wants to call his border security plan a wall — except it’s not a physical wall.
Clyburn explained that his “wall” would include drones, scanners, and sensors, “to create a technological barrier too high to climb over, too wide to go around, and too deep to burrow under.”
The fact that Clyburn, a close ally of Speaker Pelosi, is calling his technological border measures a “smart wall” may be a sign of an ever-so-slight rhetorical shift on the part of Democrats.
Semantics may play a huge part in the negotiations, as both sides are looking for ways that they can point to this dispute as a victory. Even President Trump has moved a little on this in recent weeks, calling the wall at times “a barrier” and “steel slats.”
Democrats, it should be noted, have a documented history of voting for border barriers. The 2006 Secure Fence Act passed easily with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Most of that 700 miles of fence was built, but by 2017 a government accountability report showed that the fencing was breeched thousands of times throughout the years.
But they won’t support President Trump’s border wall — probably because it is his signature campaign promise. From a purely political point of view (if not a moral or logical one), you can’t blame Pelosi or the Democrats.
The real reason America is in this situation isn’t Trump’s hard-headedness, or Pelosi’s, for that matter. It’s the incompetence of former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The fact is, the GOP had majorities in both houses from the moment Trump took office until January of this year. The fact that the border wall didn’t get complete funding in those two years is on Ryan — nobody else.
When President Trump signed the omnibus bill in March of 2018, he did so because Ryan promised him future funding for the border wall. Obviously, that never happened.
In an interview with the Daily Caller this week, the president recalled the event. “Well, I was going to veto the omnibus bill and Paul (Ryan) told me in the strongest of words, ‘Please don’t do that, we’ll get you your wall.’ And I said, ‘I hope you mean that, because I don’t like this bill.’”
Meanwhile, the rhetoric in Washington is becoming more heated than ever. In a Friday interview with CBS, the president said Speaker Pelosi was “very bad for our country” and that she “doesn’t mind human trafficking,” because of her entrenched position on the border wall.
And Democrats shot back. “Democrats have put forth strong, smart and effective border security solutions in the bi-partisan conference committee,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, who added that the president “still refuses to take a second shutdown off the table.”
When Democrats say, “the Republicans had control of both houses for two years. They should have funded the wall then,” they have a point. The border wall, structure, barrier — whatever you call it — needs to be built in order to properly secure our southern border. While you’re blaming Nancy Pelosi for the delay in getting that done, be sure to blame Paul Ryan too. It was Ryan who first sold out America in the name of political expediency.