On Thursday, President Trump announced that he would not sign a short-term continuing resolution approved by the Senate — a bill that did not include funding for a border wall. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), who was summoned to the White House alongside Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Mark Meadows (R-SC), announced Trump’s stance:
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 20, 2018
Ryan stated that Trump would not sign the bill “because of his legitimate concerns for border security.” He pledged to go back to the House and work with members to change the bill to protect the border. McCarthy, who will act as minority leader in the next term, said, “We believe there’s still time. We can still have border security. … We had a great discussion with him there. The president says what the Senate sent over is just kicking the can down the road.”
So, will the House come up with a workable version of the bill? Or will the Senate just kill the bill as soon as border funding is added? Without negotiation with Senate Democrats, any border funding would be stripped out in conference between the House and Senate anyway. The onus is now on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to come up with some sort of solution.
The smart money is on additional border funding without funding explicitly delegated to the border wall. Democrats don’t want to hand Trump a victory, feel that they have him over a barrel — after all, he’s been wishy-washy on the continuing resolution from the beginning — and believe that a government shutdown will be blamed on Trump anyway. That means they’re likely to either drive a hard bargain or refuse a bargain outright. After all, they take over Congress in the new year anyway.
The most likely solution: McConnell tells Trump that no bill is forthcoming with what he wants, but negotiates some sort of border security fig leaf for which Trump can claim victory. Democrats claim they’ve defeated Trump’s agenda by explicitly barring use of the funding for the building of a border wall.
But this is the time for Trump to stand strong, if he can: there won’t be any more opportunities once Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Simply put, if Trump doesn’t get the wall now, he’s not getting it before the 2020 election.