Trump: “Less Than 50-50” Chance of Congress Coming Up With Deal
President Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday that he was pessimistic about lawmakers in Congress coming up with a spending deal that he would be able to sign on February 15. While Trump felt it necessary to temporarily open up the federal government last Friday, he said that he was still determined to stand fast on his demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Otherwise, he said, he would be perfectly willing to let the government go into partial shutdown once again.
In the interview, Trump said: “I personally think it’s less than 50-50,” when talking about Congress’ chances of presenting him with a spending deal he could sign. “But you have a lot of very good people on that board.”
Asked by the WSJ if he would be willing to accept other forms of border barriers that did not necessarily constitute a “wall,” Trump said he was keeping an open mind.
“I have to see what it is,” he said. “As long as it can stop criminals, gangs, human trafficking and drugs, I’m open to anything. But the only thing that will work is a very strong form of physical barrier.”
To say the president is in a precarious political situation would be putting it mildly. He has put so much capital into building this wall that he’s left himself very little room to negotiate (as we just saw during the shutdown). It would be perilous to shut down the government again, and Nancy Pelosi knows it. She also knows she has the media in her back pocket, and that as long as they are crafting the narrative, she won’t have to worry about her party getting any of that nasty shutdown blame. So where does that leave the president? What are his options?
There are opportunities for a bold maneuver, but none of them are without risk. He could give away the world – amnesty for DREAMers, for instance, or even a path to citizenship for some of the illegals currently living in this country. But there will be a conservative revolt of earthquake-sized proportions if he does something like that…even if he gets the money for a sea-to-sea concrete wall. He could declare a national emergency and use unspent Pentagon funds to get started on the wall, but that will inspire legal challenges and criticism from within the Republican Party. Or he could abandon the wall altogether for now and hope that 2020 brings back a Republican majority in the House. Then again, even with that majority he was unable to get the wall funds for the first two years of his presidency.
If this entire debacle has proven anything, it’s that Trump is up against powerful forces that extend well beyond the Democratic Party. The Establishment does not want to solve illegal immigration, and THAT fact is the well from which Pelosi draws her greatest strength. It’s time for Trump to be up front about that truth, even if it means cloaking himself in his 2016-campaign persona and turning against the leadership in the GOP. He needs to give the American people the unvarnished facts about exactly what’s going on in Washington right now, political consequences be damned. It’s already Trump vs. The World in reality. Might as well draw back the curtain, stop pretending as though Mitch McConnell is on the side of the people, and expose the swamp for what it really is.