In May, with a spending bill on the docket, both congressional Republicans and the White House had the opportunity to force Democrats into a corner and make them pony up the money to begin funding the great, big beautiful border wall that – at least in part – contributed to Donald Trump’s electoral victory. They didn’t. They caved.
This month, they have another chance. But the signs coming out of Washington indicate that they might just pass it up again.
At a rally in Phoenix on August 22, President Trump said he would stop at nothing to make sure his wall was funded before he signed another piece of spending legislation.
“We are building a wall on the southern border, which is absolutely necessary,” he said. “The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have not sounded nearly as enthusiastic. While the House has already allocated $1.6 billion to begin construction, some conservatives are signaling that they would be okay with it if the Senate stripped that funding out of the bill.
In an interview with ABC last week, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows said, “In talking to a number of my members, if there was a vote for a continuing resolution next week that did not include border wall funding, the majority of those members would be supportive of that.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, meanwhile, has said that Republicans pose at least as great a threat to the wall’s construction as Democrats. Talking to Laura Ingraham on August 23, Gohmert said, “I had a problem with one thing in the Trump speech, and that was when he said, ‘Now, the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, build that wall.’ And I’m going, ‘What about some of the Republican leaders that are right there with the obstructionist Democrats?’ He was being so nice, I thought, last night.
“The wall,” he continued, “was one of the things that got President Trump elected, and I’m very grateful that he hasn’t walked away from that.”
Unfortunately, Gohmert’s confidence in the White House may not be rewarded. According to a story this week in the Washington Post, Trump officials have “quietly” told Congress that the president will sign a continuing resolution to keep the government open even if it doesn’t include the $1.6 billion in funding for the Wall. While those officials said the wall remains a top priority for President Trump, he may be willing to wait until December to make a final push for the money.
Alas, what happens when December rolls around and we see the same thing happen a third time in a row?
Not all voters are keen to see a border wall, that much is true, but there’s no question that a significant portion of Trump’s most fervent supporters pulled the lever for him because of his hardline stance on illegal immigration. The Wall not only symbolizes that stance, it solidifies it. It is a promise he cannot afford to break.