The idea of building a wall along the Southern border of the U.S. is something President Trump ran on as early as 2015. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) may make it a reality.
Following last weekend’s gassing of migrants at the border crossing near Tijuana, Mexico, Trump is demanding $5 billion in funding for border wall construction, and hinted that he may allow the government to shut down if he doesn’t get the money for the wall that he once said he would make Mexico pay for.
Sen. Schumer announced Tuesday that he would support $1.6 billion in funding, but not $5 billion. He also hinted that he would possibly be malleable to increasing that amount, though wouldn’t say what his line in the sand would be, according to CNN reporter Manu Raju.
Sen. Chuck Schumer tells reporters at his on-cam presser that Democrats’ position is $1.6 billion for wall funding – far less than the $5 billion Trump wants – but he won’t say if Democrats are shutting the door on anything more, saying he’s not going to negotiate in public.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 27, 2018
A McClatchy report from August of 2017 stated that Democrats were “united in opposition against money for the wall … even vulnerable Democrats up for re-election.” Schumer’s acquiescence to building the border wall is all the more surprising given that even some Congressional Republicans aren’t a fan of Trump’s wall. Rep.Will Hurd (R-Texas), whose district includes parts of the U.S./Mexico border, said last year that such a project would be a waste of “hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”
Funding the wall isn’t a priority of many Congressional Republicans. A 2017 USA Today survey of 292 House Republicans about whether or not they support allocating $1.6 billion for initial wall construction only yielded 69 “yes” answers. Vox’s Matthew Iglesias opined that some constituents of Republicans representing border districts would likely have their private property seized via eminent domain to build the wall, which may help explain Republicans’ uncertainty with the proposal.
Chuck Schumer isn’t exactly known for his negotiating prowess. He famously staged a fight in early 2018 during the last government funding debate over the continuation of the DACA program. Schumer ended the three-day government shutdown after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) promised a vote on an immigration bill the following month, which was already going to happen anyway.
Republicans also played Schumer in October, when he took them at their word that the senate would adjourn in the weeks leading up to the election if Schumer and the Democrats fast-tracked the lifetime judicial appointments of more than a dozen Trump appointees. After Chuck Schumer convinced his fellow Democrats to go along with the votes, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) rammed through several more judicial appointees through his committee while Democrats were out of town.
Sen. Schumer was easily re-elected as minority leader following the midterm elections, in which three Senate Democrats lost their re-election bids. Schumer himself won’t be up for re-election until 2022.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.