Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) may be on board with President Donald Trump’s border wall plan (at least to the tune of around $2 billion), but Rep. Nancy Pelosi says she isn’t going to give an inch when the issue comes to her desk.
The presumptive Speaker of the House (when the Democrats take control of the House in January), told reporters Thursday that there would be no negotiation over Trump’s 2,000 mile border fence, not even if funding for the wall were tied to Democratic immigration priorities, like the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) Act.
Pelosi told media that the wall is “immoral, ineffective, expensive,” according to Business Insider, adding that, “[Trump] also promised Mexico would pay for it, so even if they did, it’s immoral still and they’re not going to pay for it.”
If it seems like Pelosi is jumping the gun — after all, it’s still only December, and the budget battle has yet to begin — it’s because she’s planning on pre-Christmas negotiations over a long-term budget plan to break down, and a “continuing resolution” passed instead, funding the government for only a few weeks, perhaps until Congress returns from its Christmas break.
That would take the Federal budget out of the hands of a Republican Congress and drop it right into Nancy’s lap.
Unsurprisingly, she told Business Insider and others that there simply isn’t enough time before Congress recesses for the holidays to get anything more than a continuing resolution passed: “But you can’t do this week to — I mean, there’s too much uncertainty involved,” she said.
It’s a gamble Nancy is likely to win. According to Fox News, the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution on Thursday that funds the government — including the Department of Homeland Security, under whom the border wall falls — through December 21. That leaves Republicans around two weeks to negotiate, pass, and sign a full budget that includes the border wall.
Congress was supposed to have the border battle this week, but postponed discussion of the budget so that members could attend funeral services for former President George H. W. Bush.
There is one way that Republicans could prevail. The long-term budget is split into seven individual bills, all funding separate aspects of the Federal government on a long-term basis. Homeland Security appropriations are contained within their own bill, and could be passed separately from the other spending bills before the December 21st cutoff.
But that’s where the GOP’s internal troubles come to bear.
Congress has already promised around $1.2 billion for the border wall, but President Donald Trump wants $5 billion, building in a cushion for a project that is already behind schedule and threatening to exceed its original budget. Schumer is willing to concede to the $1.2 billion, since Congress has already allocated those funds, but Republicans are stuck — if they stay within current appropriations limits, they’ll defy the president, who’ll veto the spending package. If they allow the president to dictate the terms of the appropriations agreement, there will be no Democrats on board.
If the GOP had an iron-clad grip on its own Senate majority, the issue would be a non-starter, but senators like Jeff Flake (R-AZ), have been holding the GOP’s agenda hostage lately to bills “protecting” Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and there’s no guarantee Flake won’t run the same play on the Homeland Security bill, especially with the threat of having to negotiate with Nancy Pelosi looming large.