Connect with us

News

Provision Buried in Border Compromise Bill Would Hamstring Trump

If there was one thing conservatives could happily take away from the omnibus compromise reached by Congress to avert the shutdown it was that they were getting money for a border wall.

Sure, it might be 55 miles in just one sector as opposed to the 200-odd miles that President Donald Trump had sought, and it was $4 billion less than the president had wanted. However, after saying that we were getting not one cent for a wall, the Democrats agreed to fund some wall. It’s a start, right? Maybe it isn’t time to pop open the champagne, but at least you could crack open a craft beer, right?

Well, hold off on the IPA. Yes, there’s money in there for a fence, but whether it actually gets built is another thing entirely. That’s because the Democrats managed to sneak in a poison pill that could effectively kill any new fence construction.

First, the bill is awfully specific about where the fencing can go: All 55 miles must be built in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. While an inflexibility, this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, given that officials from the RGV Sector have been all but pleading for more physical barriers.

Customs and Border Protection officials and politicians are two different matters, however, especially since the area along Texas’ border with Mexico is overwhelmingly Democratic in a state that usually leans Republican.

And national Democrats decided that these local Democrats ought to have a say when it comes to whether the wall should be built.

“Section 232(a) of this bill states that ‘prior to use of any funds made available by this Act for the construction of physical barriers’ the Department of Homeland Security ‘shall confer and seek to reach mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers within that city,’” Daniel Horowitz writes at Conservative Review.

“With whom must the feds consult? ‘The local elected officials.’ Now you can understand the brilliance of limiting the wall to the Rio Grande Valley. These are the most liberal counties on the border (thanks to demographics of open borders itself!), and there is practically no local official who supports the wall in these counties.”

In fact, as Fox News reports, all it takes is a mayor to veto the idea.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “is expressing concern” about a provision that could effectively kill the only reason Republicans signed onto this. He’s expressing it now, after the bill passed both houses of Congress by a veto-proof majority and the White House is indicating they’ll sign it, although the president says “we’ll be looking for land mines.”

Of course, the fact that this almost 1,200 page document was rushed through both houses of Congress with only a desultory glance at what was in it might also have something to do with the problems here.

This wasn’t the only bad thing in the agreement, after all. The bill did nothing to curb runaway spending or close loopholes in immigration law that created perverse incentives for unaccompanied minors or parents with small children to attempt a dangerous crossing, and depending on who you listened to the bill could drastically curb Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to detain individuals.

But that was the tradeoff for getting more construction on the border wall kickstarter — a huge tradeoff, mind you, but a tradeoff that would avert another shutdown and give the president some of what we wanted.

And yet, Republicans could have traded all of that for nothing.

All that’s needed, if we’re to read Section 232(a) right, is for a mayor to say he or she doesn’t want the wall in their community and that hard-won bollard fencing is kaput. Furthermore, given the part of the world where the omnibus bill confines construction to, there are a lot of mayors who will relish the opportunity to tell DHS and the Trump administration to get lost.

At the very least, what we’re going to see is a long court fight to get the wall built — all while the Democrats will be enjoying everything they got in these negotiations, free of any concerns about litigation.

The president reportedly plans on signing the bill while exploring other executive actions to get the wall built — including declaring a national emergency, according to Fox News.

That, too, will almost certainly end up in court. In other words, there’s almost nothing in this “compromise” that ends up with a wall being built without a struggle — and it passed both houses with a veto-proof majority.

Even if the president decides not to sign it at the last minute, it could still end up becoming law if some Republicans don’t switch their votes. And, if they do, then we get the inexorable blame game, where the GOP is stuck with the tag of causing a shutdown because their leadership negotiated a fiasco of an omnibus.

This, ladies and gentlemen, seems to be the definition of “compromise” with the modern Democrats: They get what they want and in return, they call the Republicans “sensible” and “fair” for a few weeks until some other controversy comes up.

In the meanwhile, conservatives are left with nothing and the White House is vilified for even considering executive action to rectify the problem. And, should the GOP back out of this wretched bargain, they’re going to reap another round of media excoriation.

This is shaping up to be one of the most shameful political capitulations in quite some time, shepherded by pusillanimous Republican negotiators and ineffectual leadership.

In these negotiations, we’ve seen a regression to the days of Speaker John Boehner and the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket, when the primary distinguishing quality of the GOP is that they were slightly less liberal than the Democrats and always willing to settle for worthless, meretricious victories in negotiations with the other party. Conservatives have every right to expect better.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *