President Donald Trump has been demanding border wall funding since his presidential campaign. Now, he is threatening another government shut down if he doesn’t get the funding he wants. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi jabbed with President Trump asking him if the possibility of a shutdown is an option if no legislative work towards border wall funding is pushed through. The President didn’t hesitate to say he would be “proud” to shut down parts of the government if it results in a border wall.
Congress is looking at another partial government shutdown deadline on December 21, and the hold-up is over Trump’s southern border wall.
Trump tells Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer he'll shut down the government if he doesn't get border wall funding: “I am proud to shutdown the government for border security” pic.twitter.com/3TefceDi1Z
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) December 11, 2018
President Trump wants $5 billion in funding for the wall but Democrats don’t want to budge on the $1.3 billion currently being allocated for border security funding. The proposed plan Pelosi and Schumer presented to the president didn’t include the $5 billion Trump has requested. Pelosi asserted that the House couldn’t pass any bill which includes $5 billion for border wall funding. This could all be leading to a showdown between Democrats and President Trump who may be forced to compromise a deal to avoid a government shutdown.
“I will be the one to shut it down,” Trump said to reporters. “I will take the mantle of shutting it down … I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”
This isn’t the first time the President has threatened a government shutdown over funding for his long-promised border wall, a signature campaign issue. He previously made statements claiming that “Mexico will pay for the wall,” but recently conceded that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.
According to a recent national poll, Americans would prefer to see the president compromise a deal to prevent a shutdown.
CREDIT: CREDIT: NPR
The poll, conducted by NPR, shows the majority of Americans — 57 percent to 36 percent — think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a government shutdown. Most Americans oppose having a government shutdown over a wall and more than two-thirds (69 percent) don’t believe building a wall should even be a concern for Congress.
Irene Bloemraad, an immigration expert at UC Berkeley, says the average American could care less about a wall let alone spending $5 billion on it. She says social sciences evidence shows there’s no need for a wall and having one wouldn’t do much in terms of stopping people from entering the U.S.
“You can make the argument that using 5 billion to build a wall is a waste of money. This isn’t a conservative or progressive issue, it’s an American issue that either side can argue a better use for that money,” Bloemraad said. “Democrats can argue they money should be spent on education and Republicans on tax cuts, either way there’s more important needs right now.”
So why does President Trump keep calling for a wall if most Americans don’t want it and there isn’t the money for it?
Here's how we got from President Trump's campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for the border wall, to his latest shutdown pledge, asking US taxpayers to foot the bill https://t.co/YgoAUTUhr4
— CNN (@CNN) December 12, 2018
The difference in the $1.3 billion in wall funding President Trump already has and the $5 billion in funding he’s asking for is $3.7 billion, which is nothing in the context of the $4 trillion federal budget. According to Vox, the $5 billion in funding Trump is asking for isn’t enough for a border wall. Estimates of the entire wall cost have ranged from $20 billion to $70 billion. That would mean an even bigger question mark on the reality of a border wall ever happening.
Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine, says this all posturing by the President to please his base and make the border wall a hot topic issue heading into next week. DeSipio notes the President has done this before in his Presidency including right before the midterm elections last month.
“It a bunch of posturing by the President and it’s nothing new. He’s done it throughout his term and is using the border wall as a crutch against Democrats to make it look like they don’t want a safe border,” DeSipio said. ” But that can’t be anymore further from the truth.”
The big question next is will all this lead to a compromise between Democrats and the President to avoid a government shutdown?
Trump used to say he'd get Mexico to pay for the wall.
Now he says he'll get Democrats to.
Over the past two years, he hasn't gotten *Republicans* to. https://t.co/kFX0MSpIPk
— Philip Bump (@pbump) December 12, 2018
With less than two weeks to go until the current round of government funding is set to expire, a deal is necessary to avoid a government shutdown. But who has the leverage here, Democrats or President Trump? Neither, according to DeSipio, who says Republicans have a lot of power here since they still have the majority in the House and Senate until the new year begins. He says that the president doesn’t have all the Republican votes yet and some don’t support that much spending on the wall, so in order to pass a new spending bill, he’d need all of their votes.
“This all might go down to the wire in terms of timing but there’s a reason why the President is doing this right now,” DiSipio says. “That’s because if there is a government shutdown the most ideal time would be during the holidays when not many government people are working.”
Bloemraad and DeSipio both agree that a compromise will happen to avoid a shutdown and that means Democrats supporting some funding for more fencing and border repairing but nothing serious like a border wall.
“The issue of immigration is the most consistent issue Trump has run on but it’s also been largely ineffective and the nation is very divided on this,” Bloemraad says. “Having a divided House of Representatives and Senate means trouble for the President and the border wall might have to be put on hold.”