On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced its willingness to back off of its demands for full funding for a border wall in the newest continuing resolution to fund the government. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News, “we have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion that we’ll work with Congress.” She explained, “At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the border.”
This marks a serious shift from the escalating tenor of President Trump’s statements on the issue. On Friday, he said that he would own a shutdown over the border; he has consistently insisted that Democrats provide him the funding he has requested. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was set to propose a bill today that would include both $1.6 billion in border funding and another $1 billion for a border security “slush fund” that could not be used toward a wall, but Democrats have already said that they will oppose such a deal. Democrats continue to preach that a wall would be immoral in some unspecified way. “It’s the wrong thing to do,” incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated. “It doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It’s the wrong thing to do and it’s a waste of money.”
It does work. It’s not ineffective. And the only time Democrats seem concerned about excessive government expenditure is when national security is implicated.
In any case, it’s a pretty gutless move for the administration to back down from a fight over the wall after revving up Republicans for precisely that fight – especially since back in January, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was forced to back down from his own shutdown attempt while trying to push President Trump to grant amnesty to so-called DREAMers. Americans don’t understand the Democrats’ agenda with regard to the wall. They do understand Trump’s. If Trump agrees with that assessment, backing off a fight is a mistake. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is about to send $4.8 billion to Mexico in development aid. So much for Mexico paying for the wall.
It’s an even bigger mistake considering that Republicans are simultaneously pushing hard for a vote on criminal justice reform. This was never a priority for Trump; it’s been far more of a priority for top aide Jared Kushner. Trump ran on the basis of law and order, and yet he’s now pushing for a bill that would ease the requirements in imposing mandatory minimum sentences, loosen the three-strikes rule, and increase “good time credits” that would allow thousands of prisoners to go free the day the bill is imposed as law. There are good arguments in favor of some of the measures in the First Step Act, but suffice it to say it’s a far cry from Trump’s “keep America safe” rhetoric.
Trump voters should be, at the very least, disquieted by Trump’s willingness to back down once again from his pledge on the border wall. Combined with his reprioritization of criminal justice reform, Trump looks not so much tough on crime as ambivalent about it.