We’re talking, we’re talking.
That’s what Chuck Schumer had to say after emerging from a heart-to-heart with Mitch McConnell on Thursday afternoon.
The Senate went ahead with votes on two rival funding bills on Thursday and, as expected, neither passed. Hilariously, the Democrat version garnered more support than Trump’s plan by a margin of two votes, and six Republicans broke rank (Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Johnny Isakson, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney).
By contrast, only one Democrat (Joe Manchin, surprise, surprise) supported Trump’s version, which included the $5.7 he’s demanding for the wall.
As Politico notes, that lack of Democrat support “came as a particular surprise to Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has touted his relationships with Democratic lawmakers but lacks deep experience on Capitol Hill.” Who knew a political neophyte basking in the glory of Trump’s penchant for nepotism would prove wholly inept at marshaling bipartisan support during the most divisive period in modern political history, right?! Here is Trump trying to spin it:
Sensing that the stalemate is set to become completely intractable and under immense pressure to do something (anything, really) to get the ball rolling as 800,000 furloughed workers prepare to miss a second paycheck, Schumer and McConnell are apparently studying a “path forward”.
Meanwhile, proud sycophant (and man who maligned Trump in the harshest possible terms during the campaign only to roll over completely after John McCain died) Lindsey Graham suggested that the White House is open to a three-week CR on the condition it come with a “down payment” on the slat fence, something Nancy Pelosi immediately called “not a reasonable agreement.”
“The three-week CR would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall”, Sarah Sanders subsequently reiterated.
Common sense dictates that Trump would be desperate at this juncture. After all, federal workers are now standing in modern day soup lines, the economy is on the verge of taking a sizable hit and Trump’s approval rating has dropped to its lowest point in a year.
But this is Trump we’re talking about, so common sense doesn’t apply.
Given that, it comes as no surprise that CNN is out reporting that the White House has prepped a “draft proclamation for Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border.”
According to documents obtained by the network, the administration has “identified more than $7 billion in potential funds” that can be tapped if Trump decides to make this historic debacle immeasurably worse by going the national emergency route.
Here is an actual verbatim excerpt from the draft:
The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency.
Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States.
Translation: “The massive number of times I promised to build a wall on the southern border has put me in a position where my political capital will collapse to zero if I don’t figure out a way to turn this absurd fantasy into reality. Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, will raid money earmarked for disaster relief and use it to build a giant barrier along the southern border.”
For the hundredth time, this is an extremely risky maneuver, which is presumably why he hasn’t done it already, although everyone thought last Saturday might end up being the day.
On Wednesday, Trump actually implored America to “pray” for his wall.
Just to recap, Trump has been essentially arguing with himself for weeks about whether the national emergency idea is a good one. And very much contrary to what he said earlier this month about it being “the easy way out”, there wouldn’t be anything “easy” about it. Here are some quick excerpts from a previous post on this:
You can’t just scribble “eemergenzy” on some presidential letterhead and then proceed to plunder funds set aside for disaster relief (e.g., Puerto Rico) in the service of doing something over-the-top crazy like building a 2,000-mile-long steel wall on the southern border.
This is yet another example of a situation where what Trump wants to do is so laughable that finding the right words to lampoon it or otherwise make it more amusing than it already is ends up being an exercise in futility – especially when you consider the context. Trump has verbally (and very publicly) sparred with California and Puerto Rico over the extent to which (and I still can’t believe I have to say this) they are responsible for creating fires and hurricanes and thus maybe don’t deserve federal assistance.
A you might have heard, Trump is considering stealing from more than a dozen Corps of Engineers projects that have already been funded by Congress and diverting that money to the wall.
As CNN goes on to write on Thursday evening, “if the declaration is made, the US Army Corps of Engineers would be deployed to construct the wall, some of which could be built on private property and would therefore require the administration to seize the land, which is permitted if it’s for public use.”
Obviously, that would be challenged in court and in Congress, which in turn means construction would be delayed. It also means the media would have all kinds of time to let the American people know exactly where the money is coming from. Here’s one more quick excerpt from the CNN article which underscores how bad the optics would be:
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, tweeted earlier this month that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, “assured Texans that he understood the deep concerns about using Harvey relief funds for the border.” CNN previously reported that the Pentagon was asked to provide a list of those projects in anticipation of a national emergency.
Just imagine the uproar.
Finally, if you’re wondering whether Trump retold the story about the “coyotes” and the “women taped up in vans” again today in the interest of making sure the fear knob stays cranked up to a Spinal Tap-ish “11”, the answer is…