President Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that securing funds for the construction of an improved border wall and other border security measures is a top priority of his administration.
Unfortunately, Congress has been extremely reticent in appropriating much by way of funds for a border wall — a mere $1.3 billion here, $1.6 billion there — which has garnered threats from Trump of a partial government shutdown in December if Congress doesn’t provide some additional funding for the border wall in a spending bill set to be voted on in the near future.
Trump has requested that Congress grant him approximately $5 billion in the upcoming spending bill that will explicitly go toward border security and border wall construction. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was asked by reporters about that particular request and the threat of a partial shutdown on Tuesday.
“We believe three things,” Schumer replied. “Number one, we are for strong border security. The bill we originally put together in 2013 had $40 billion and we are for strong border security, we’ve made numerous proposals.”
“Number two, the $1.6 billion for border security — negotiated by Democrats and Republicans — is our position. We believe that is the right way to go,” he continued.
“Third, if there’s any shutdown … it’s on President Trump’s back. First, left to our own devices, the Senate and House could come to an agreement. Second, the Republicans are in control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. A shutdown is on their back. Stick to the $1.6 billion,” he added.
Asked if he thought the $5 billion request from Trump was “unreasonable,” Schumer shouted that the Trump administration hadn’t even spent “a single dime” of the $1.3 billion in funds that had already been appropriated for a border wall in 2017’s budget, a dubious and questionable claim, at best.
Another reporter began to ask a question about additional funding that wasn’t fully picked up by the microphones, but Schumer quickly cut him off and angrily declared, “This is our position, we’re not negotiating in the press, this is our position.”
While Schumer told the reporters that he had no intention of “negotiating in the press” the total funding for border security or a border wall, his remarks prior to that indicated that he may be open to some negotiating behind closed doors with his Republican counterparts, or even President Trump.
Schumer mentioned “border security” at least three times, and twice explicitly claimed that Democrats fully supported “strong border security” measures … which would in fact include a border wall, at least along certain parts of the border.
It is worth noting that, even though Schumer said nothing that could be easily construed as supportive of a border wall, his talk of supporting increased border security measures seemed far more promising of actual action on a deal than he has seemed on prior occasions when the topic has come up.
In reporting on Schumer’s remarks, Breitbart speculated that a deal could already be in the works, and offered up a handful of asks that Schumer could put forward in exchange for agreeing to provide additional funding for border security that could be used for border wall construction.
Chief among those possibilities is a deal that was nearly reached in 2017, one that would exchange border wall funding for an amnesty for the roughly three million illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Other possibilities included a deal that would exchange border wall funding for legislative protections for the Robert Mueller special counsel probe, or perhaps border wall funding in exchange for fast-tracked and increased amounts of work visas for foreign workers.
It obviously remains to be seen exactly what sort of specifics are involved in any potential deal, but given Schumer’s suddenly emphatic support for “strong border security, not to mention Trump’s mastery of the “Art of the Deal,” it is looking more possible than ever that Trump will finally get a decent amount of funding to get a portion of his oft-promised border wall constructed.