President Trump’s vow to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he would “wear the mantle” and shut down the government if he doesn’t get $5 billion for a border wall in the year-end spending legislation has caused problems for his caucus.
“Trump’s ultimatum on border wall boxes in fellow Republicans,” read the headline Thursday on a Washington Post story by Erica Werner, Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim. His “increasingly urgent push to construct a massive wall on the border with Mexico has created a nightmare scenario for congressional Republicans as they race to avert a partial shutdown of the federal government at the end of next week,” read their lead.
“Some expressed befuddlement at Trump’s strategy, while others sidestepped his comments, marking a new rift between the president and his party on Capitol Hill with just weeks left at the helm of both chambers of Congress,” they wrote.
The Democrats’ takeover of the House in the 2018 midterms “presented Trump with even longer odds of securing wall funding in the new year.” Even though a deal appeared within reach, “Republicans [now] confront a dilemma of Trump’s own making after he flipped the script by telling Pelosi and Schumer he’d be ‘proud to shut down the government for border security.’”
The story includes quotes from Sens. John Thune of South Dakota, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and John Cornyn of Texas – all Republicans – saying essentially they don’t understand where Trump is going with this and that a shutdown is not favorable.
Yet, on the Townhall website, the headline reads, “Can’t House Republicans Just Pass Trump’s $5 billion Wall Funding Request?”
The story, by Guy Benson, says Republicans could indeed pass the measure through the House. “The GOP still controls the House of Representatives for the next few weeks, so if (still) Speaker Ryan and company can get their caucus in line, they could simply pass a DHS appropriation that meets the president’s full request on wall funding.
“That would not only fortify Trump’s bargaining position and apply pressure to Senate Democrats, it would also embarrass incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who just taunted her Republican colleagues for not having the votes. And the next House Republican leader is telling reporters that he’s “100 percent” confident that he does have the votes.”
Journalists are expressing skepticism over this claim, Benson wrote, because Republicans who lost may not want to come back to Washington for what may be symbolic votes, some are mad at Trump for ridiculing them after they lost, and the leverage House passage is said to provide may not amount to all that much.
But the fact McCarthy guaranteed victory on his first foray into leadership of the caucus means defeat would be especially humiliating, and although some lawmakers can do without Trump, most respect McCarthy and Ryan and don’t want to see either fail, he wrote.
But even after McCarthy guaranteed victory, the Post wrote that “House Republicans were struggling with whether to hold a vote on a spending bill containing $5 billion for the wall.” It quoted Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, saying, “Do we have the votes for a measure that includes $5 billion for the wall? Yes. The question of whether to do it is a question of wisdom and strategy and tactics, and it’s highly debatable about whether that’s the right move.”
Republicans have some choices to make, for sure, and the decisions have yet to be made. “We’re at an impasse at the moment,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama is quoted as saying.
But they are hardly “boxed in” or in any kind of “nightmare scenario.” Indeed, one house of Congress appears lined up to pass the measure.