President Donald Trump was elected making promises about a border wall. The new barrier along our southern border would be cement, stretch thousands of miles through desert, and be paid for by Mexico. Now it might not happen at all — at least not on the president's preferred schedule. Trump was hoping Congress would allocate some funding to get construction going, but in what might be his next legislative embarrassment, Congress might stymie Trump's wall funding.
There's a "must-pass" government funding law in the works — without it, the government will shut down — and Democrats have said in no uncertain terms that wall funding will not be included. Surprisingly Republicans seem to be listening. Reuters reported Tuesday that some in the GOP already admit wall funding will likely not be a part of the bill that needs to be signed by April 28 to avoid the shutdown.
The news agency quoted Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who is part of the Republican leadership. He said it isn't likely to happen. Rather that the border wall and military spending would come later — after this budget is approved. Without it, government agencies would shut down from April 29 to Sep. 30.
At stake is just some $1.5 billion of a wall that has been estimated to cost anywhere from $12 billion (Trump's estimate) to $67 billion (Sen. Claire McCaskill's). Reuters estimates it will be about $21.6 billon — already way over Trump's budgeted expenditure. In any case, construction cannot begin until there is some money allocated, and the goal of the Dems is to keep that from happening.
Politico reported that the GOP leaders are worried about splits in their own ranks. They may even need to rely on Democrats to pass this spending bill. Some of the fissures became clear during the debate over Trumpcare, or the American Healthcare Act.
But once the money from the wall is split from a larger spending bill, its chances of passing falls dramatically. Politico quoted Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. "What I would like to see is a plan for how the money would be spent and a good faith discussion about what border security is really composed of. We haven’t had that," Cornyn told the news site. He added that there would not be a shutdown.
If Democrats hold strong and fight the wall, it could be good politics for the beleaguered party. At least one poll shows that 62 percent of Americans oppose the wall, and a full 70 percent assume that the United States will end up footing the bill. If Congress passes a bill to pay for the first stretch, those thoughts are to be confirmed. The Dems can make sure that doesn't happen and win some voters over in the process.
Politically this can only be good for Dems and bad for Congressional Republicans. Plus, Trump can't really afford another mess. So bye bye border wall. For now this one looks winnable.