What could go wrong?
To what lengths will Donald Trump go to fulfill his considerable ego needs? Will he shut down the government unless he gets his way on border wall funding?
These are the central questions this week, as Congress returns after recess to face the prospect of a government shutdown fight. Donald Trump is demanding that a must-pass spending bill include billions for his ridiculous border wall. Fortunately, his strategy is hitting a wall of its own – a wall of opposition comprised of Democrats, the public, and a decided lack of support even from Republicans, especially those who represent districts and states on the southwest border.
After promises from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Majority Leader Ryan that there would be no government shutdown, it’s pretty clear what is behind Trump’s 11th hour insistence on funding for his border wall: a toxic combination of Trump’s fragile ego; Trump’s fears that his 100 day reviews will be harsh; and his desire to recapture the spirit of an infamous campaign chant.
The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight … One official said the White House is feeling pressure because of a perceived lack of accomplishments 100 days in and wants to use the hard deadline to secure a victory the administration can tout.
And in his rambling new Associated Press interview, President Trump made it clear that this is all about the base:
My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall.
Here are the three main reasons why Trump’s ego-driven push is likely to fail:
Democratic leadership is projecting confidence, standing united, and stating opposition in no uncertain terms. They are leaning in. Unlike during the Obama years, Senator Schumer, Leader Pelosi, and others seem to have no fear of a shutdown, presumably because they believe Trump and the Republicans would be blamed.
Here’s what Democratic leaders are saying, as reported in this Sean Sullivan piece:
‘The wall is — in my view — immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says, ‘Well, I promised a wall during my campaign,’ I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall on to the taxpayer,’ House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on ‘Meet the Press.’
Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ that for Mr. Trump to consider shutting down the government over border-wall funding ‘would be the height of irresponsibility.’
‘The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the President said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete non-starter,’ Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statementFriday. House said Sunday that statement still stands.
Lack of Support from Republicans
While Trump claims his base wants the border wall, lawmakers of both parties who represent the border do not. In a Wall Street Journal story titled, “Border Lawmakers Balk at Donald Trump’s Wall Request,” Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson write:
Not a single member of Congress who represents the territory on the southwest border said they support President Donald Trump’s request for $1.4 billion to begin construction of his promised wall, according to a Wall Street Journal survey, testing the administration’s ability to reach a deal on government funding next week.
Most lawmakers representing the region—both Democrats and Republicans—said they are opposed and many said they have unanswered questions. A few were noncommittal, but not a single member of the House or Senate representing the region expressed support for the funding request. That includes nine members of the House and eight senators across four states: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Additionally, key Republicans in the House and Senate continue to throw cold water on the idea of shutting down the government over border wall:
Rep. Tom Cole said, “I wouldn’t risk a trillion dollar funding bill for a 3 billion dollar wall.”
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), a key member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the House and Senate were making progress and noted, “that comes together better without the supplemental,” saying, “They will not pass together.”
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “There’s not going to be a shutdown,” noting that there has yet to be a “good faith discussion about what border security is really composed of. We haven’t had that.”
Lack of Public Support for Border Wall Funding
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that the American public overwhelmingly opposes the wall, by a 64-33% margin.
If Trump’s base wants a border wall, they stand alone.
The poll also shows that the wall is growing less popular over time. Aseries of post-election Quinnipiac polls finds that opposition to the wall has shifted, from 55-42% in November to 59-38% in early February to 60-37% opposition in late February to 64-30% in back-to-back Quinnipiac polls released this month.
The Quinnipiac polling mirrors other recent polls finding strong opposition to the wall:
A February CNN poll finds 60-38% opposition to the border wall;
A February Pew Research poll finds 62%-35% opposition and notes that 70% think the U.S. would have to pay for the wall (just 16% of Americans think Mexico would pay for it);
A January CBS News poll finds 59-37% opposition to the wall and that 79% think that American taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the wall; and
A Fox News poll found that just 3% of registered voters think that Trump’s top priority should be building a wall.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
We’ve come to this. A narcissistic President wants a ‘win’ in time for the media reviews of his first 100 days. He insists on a multi-billion dollar wall that would be a monument to his stupidity and would accomplish nothing. It is an enormous waste of taxpayer money, and flies in the face of his oft-repeated promise that Mexico would pay for the wall. Fortunately, the Democrats are staying strong, the public is behind them, and even Republican lawmakers are divided. Can someone please tell him that this isn’t a real estate deal in New York but an essential function in a democracy. We hope and pray that the institutions and leaders who care less about his ego and more about our country will prevail.