Worried that a divide with Democrats over the budget will lead to a government shutdown, Republican leaders think it may be best to deny President Trump the funds he has requested to start building his promised border wall. According to a new story in Politico, “some Republican insiders worry that the president cannot afford another major legislative setback — and they believe a shutdown showdown would result in just that.”
The first setback, of course, was the healthcare bill.
The problem with kicking the border wall money down the road is that you lose all your leverage over the Democrats. Yes, they’re saying today that they won’t budge on the wall…but if they’re not budging now, when? When you try to pass it as a piece of standalone legislation? That’s not going to work.
But that’s treating this as a problem of political strategy, and that’s not what it is. The real problem is that Republicans don’t want to fund the wall any more than Democrats. And you can see that plainly when you read to Politico’s interview with Sen. John Cornyn:
“It remains to be seen,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) in an interview. “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.”
Asked about the prospects for a lapse in government funding, Cornyn was definitive: “There’s not going to be a shutdown.”
That doesn’t sound like a man who is really reluctant to drop the border wall idea.
In his proposed budget to Congress, President Trump asked for $1.4 billion to be allocated towards building the wall, wrapped in a $30 billion increase in defense spending.
“The border wall is probably not a smart investment,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told Politico.
So it’s easy to see that the healthcare implosion is only Act I in what promises to be an intense congressional trainwreck inside the Republican Party.
But…maybe it was inevitable. On conservative issues like national security, Trump wants to make good on every hardline stance a Republican politician has ever faked on a debate stage. And on other issues, well, it was always known that he was not a traditional conservative. But as far as his agenda and his Cabinet are concerned, you’d be hard pressed to find a problem from an ideological point of view.
Nonetheless, what we have right now is not a unified party. There are the Trump folks. There are the Ryan folks. There are the hawks. There are the Tea Party conservatives. And unless you can find things that bring these factions together against the real enemy, nothing will get done.