At a tax reform roundtable in Ohio this weekend, President Trump said that he was willing to risk a government shutdown if Congress did not allocate the money he needs to build a border wall.
“They don’t want the wall, but we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while,” Trump said. “We’re going to get the wall. We have no choice. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country. And we may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don’t. And you can’t allow people to pour into our country the way they’re doing.”
The border wall was, of course, the signature issue of Trump’s historic 2016 campaign. But despite enjoying Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, the president has been unable to make funding that wall a reality.
Now, we all recall that Trump said that Mexico – not the U.S. taxpayer – would be the benefactor in the building of said wall, but it was understood that Congress might have to make the first move. Trump has floated various ways of making Mexico pick up the bill – taxing remittances, re-negotiating NAFTA – but they will almost certainly be avenues of reimbursement, not up-front funding.
In the meantime, the president needs Republicans to step up with the funding. And to make that a reality, he’s going to need a few Democrats to vote for the wall as well.
We’ve been through a few rounds of immigration negotiations on Capitol Hill, the majority of which have been waylaid by the Democrats’ refusal to budge when it comes to the so-called Dreamers. Despite their stated desire to grant legal protection to these childhood arrivals, the Democrats have signaled a firm unwillingness to compromise when it comes to border security. Oh, they’re willing to throw Republicans a bone or two, but funding the wall? Ending the diversity lottery visa? Putting a stop to chain migration? No, they don’t want anything to do with actual solutions.
This battle isn’t made easier by the fact that plenty of lawmakers in Trump’s own party are big fans of amnesty themselves. And even some of those who aren’t still don’t believe that spending $25 billion on a border wall is the right way to solve the problem. It apparently hasn’t occurred to them (or, at least, isn’t a matter of any particular importance) that Trump’s election proves that the American people feel differently.
A government shutdown on the metaphorical eve of the midterms might not be the wisest political move Trump ever made, but eventually, the time comes to pay the piper. The president promised a wall and the American people voted for him in overwhelming numbers based on that promise. Both Democrats and Republicans need to bear that in mind, or they may find themselves facing the fury of the public.