President Donald Trump is acutely aware that this is not just the ideal time to hammer out a border security agreement with Democratic leaders — it’s the only time. And Democratic petulance may cause them to miss a golden opportunity.
On Tuesday, clearer heads on the Democratic side of the aisle reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who is the chief cause for the gridlock. Other House Democrats are seeking an end to the impasse, according to reports released Tuesday.
In a letter drafted by freshman Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat, and signed by an undisclosed number of like-minded party centrists, the lawmakers asked their House leader to enter into good faith negotiations with the White House.
The letter gives an olive branch to the speaker: “We understand that this shutdown was not caused by the 116th Congress,” it said, before adding, “but it is our job to fix it.”
Thus far, Pelosi has shown no inclination to fix the shutdown if such a solution includes funding for a barrier at the border.
At her last White House face-to-face meeting, Pelosi suggested a 30-day continuing resolution on those agencies that remain closed, to give the parties time to work out a border security proposal that would be agreeable to all.
When Trump asked if that would include funding for a barrier, the House speaker said no. Her recalcitrance signaled the end to the conversation. Accordingly, Trump called the meeting a “total waste of time.”
As further indication of how intractable Pelosi is, on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, Trump addressed the nation, proposing a 3-year legal status for so-called Dreamers, those who were illegally brought across the border as children by their parents.
In return, the president asked for funding for more immigration judges, drug interdiction technology, humanitarian assistance, and to begin construction of a border barrier.
Just as Trump began his address, Pelosi responded in the negative. Her mind was already made up before she even heard the president’s proposal.
On the Senate side, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has repeatedly allowed Pelosi to take the lead in the discussion, even though he’s on record as repeatedly supporting border barriers in the past.
Cracks in the Democratic position first began appearing last month, when Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif, announced that she was willing to open serious negotiations with the White House on border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers.
“I'm willing to negotiate a certain amount of money if we can make sure that the 800,000 to one million DACA eligible individuals in this country get a pathway to citizenship,” she told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
At the time, she suggested at least meeting the president halfway on border construction — $2.5 billion.
“So I think that's all subject to negotiation,” she said. “We have to be willing to negotiate. I do not want to see the government shut down.”
On Tuesday those cracks widened significantly when Pelosi’s Number 2, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told host Neil Cavuto on Fox News that walls and other barriers weren’t necessarily immoral, contradicting the House speaker’s stated position.
“If [the wall] is protecting people it’s moral; if it’s imprisoning people, it may well be immoral,” he said.
Hoyer also told Cavuto that walls were a component part of border security: “I think physical barriers are a part of the solution,” he said.
It all comes down to Pelosi. Fairly or unfairly, media outlets have often criticized the president for exhibiting petulant, sometimes churlish behavior.
This time it’s the House speaker, and short-sightedness could cause her party to miss the opportunity to gain some major concessions Democrats have long sought.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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