Trump’s been using his demand for a $5.7 billion wall to hold up the current spending bill. We’ll soon see if a $1.4 billion fence instead will appease him enough to back off.
With the prospects of another protracted government shutdown looming, congressional negotiators have been working hard behind the scenes to put together a plan that may reach enough of a compromise to have President Donald Trump agree to it and sign it.
It’s not just the shutdown that they need to be afraid of with this issue, although avoiding another such scenario is in itself quite worthy of their time. The deadline for the expiration of the current temporary solution is just about upon us, and if we don’t get this resolved by Friday, we’re back to the same gloomy place we were before this recent temporary agreement was reached.
This is all already set to happen, but there’s also the threat of Trump seeking emergency financing to appropriate the funds he’s looking for to build his wall.
Some are quite skeptical of whether Trump has the power to use emergency funding in such a seemingly non-emergency way, and we’ve seen similar attempts struck down by the Supreme Court due to their not representing a clear enough national emergency.
It is Possible That Trump Could Actually Do This
However, Trump does have a card to play that very well may be immune from this, and that’s to use part of the money that is set aside for him to use for military spending. This is earmarked for the president to not have to wait for congressional approval in cases where doing so may place natural security too much at risk.
As questionable as it may be whether a wall on the border with Mexico would represent an emergency of any real significance, the Trump camp is still insisting that the situation is indeed important enough to be considered an emergency worthy of the use of presidential power to intervene.
If we seek to follow the principles behind these special powers, we would require something to be important enough to circumvent Congress, and this importance would pertain to the timeliness of the task. Therefore, these emergencies need to not only be very important but also be so urgent that it would be too risky or unreasonable to wait for the normal approval process to play out.
The Mexican wall may be important to some, but it’s hard to imagine this being so urgent that these powers can be evoked with reasonable justification, but Trump cares a great deal about this and would likely be happy enough to just not have us able to stop him.
The two do go very much together though, the prospects of both a shutdown and a national emergency being declared, so if we can reach a deal on this current impasse, this could potentially set aside both concerns, for now anyway.
Seeking Middle Ground on the Border
The key here is to give President Trump enough of what he wants that we may accept the compromise, which will be short of the famous wall but enough that he may agree to take what is offered him and call off the dogs for now anyway.
The agreement involves providing him $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new fencing along the border in the Rio Grande area of Texas. Trump’s latest conception of the wall which he shared with us in December would cover a total of 215 miles at a cost of $5.4 billion.
This is therefore not about building a wall along the entire Mexican border or anything close to it, it is instead designed to make it more difficult to enter the country along higher risk areas of the border.
The hope is that settling for these 55 miles of fence now will tempt Trump enough to accept the deal, although this deal just got put together and it needs to not only get the approval of Congress, it also needs to be signed by Trump himself.
“Our staffs are just working out the details,” shared House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. These details are being worked on with a real sense of urgency, as the official announcement is scheduled for Tuesday.
Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, confesses that “with the government being shut down, [and with] the specter of another shutdown being this close, what brought us back together I thought tonight was we did not want this to happen [again].”
Both Republicans and Democrats appear anxious to avoid another shutdown, especially after the longest one in the country’s history just getting over. Few would doubt Trump’s resolve, and especially given that this concerns something which is obviously quite high on his list of priorities, and we already know that it’s prioritized over a government shutdown of a month or more.
How much longer he would be prepared to go with this is yet to be seen, but the hope in Congress is that they will not have to put this to the test and this would be enough to allow for a spending bill to be passed, a standard one and not just another temporary one.
This will all come down to how much this appeals to the president, and we cannot even speculate all that much about what his reaction will be, we’ll just have to wait, but not for long.