Democrats are drawing a line in the sand when it comes to funding President Trump’s border wall. In a letter to Republicans, top Senate Democrats said they would sooner shut down the federal government than vote for a budget that included funding for the controversial barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. They also warned the GOP against pushing a budget that included any number of other touchy partisan clauses.
“If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy,” they wrote in the letter.
Republicans dismissed the tough talk, telling reporters that their main concern was writing budget bills for fiscal year 2017 before funding expires at the end of April.
Democrats said that without a specific White House plan vis-a-vis the border wall, Congress would simply be throwing money down the drain.
“The administration has not detailed how to 1) use eminent domain and other procedures to acquire land from private landowners and Native American tribes, 2) design the wall, 3) locate the wall, 4) construct the wall, and 5) require Mexico to pay for the wall given the president’s clear and repeated promises that he would force Mexico to do so,” the senators wrote.
For six years, Democrats have bashed Republicans for playing hardball when it came to the budget, but the letter – composed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – shows that they are ready to use scorched-earth tactics to oppose the president’s agenda.
Because Republicans only have 52 seats in the Senate, they need at least eight Democrats to pass a budget bill. And that’s assuming they can get their entire party on board in the first place, which is by no means a safe assumption. Fiscal conservatives are likely to put up a fight when it comes to Trump’s proposed budget, which calls for extraordinary increases in military spending. Democrats, on the other hand, have vowed to reject those increases unless they are accompanied by matching increases in domestic spending.
President Trump, like so many of his predecessors, came to Washington hoping to bring Democrats and Republicans together for the common good of the country. But as he’s soon to discover, the Dems aren’t even slightly interested in compromise or unity. They are determined to ride the anti-Trump energy of their base all the way to 2018, and they are going to make Republicans fight tooth and nail for every federal dollar in the meantime.
And now the question becomes: How hard are Republicans going to fight for budgetary items that they themselves aren’t crazy about? And how will President Trump react if his own party abandons his agenda?
If you thought the first two months of Trump’s presidency were wild, just wait. The fun’s just starting.