After punting on wall funding until after the midterm elections, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reiterated the importance of border security in a statement to Breitbart News. In his statement he said, “President Trump’s election was a wakeup call to Washington. The American people want us to build the wall and enforce the law. Maintaining strong borders is one of the basic responsibilities of any nation. For too long, America has failed in this responsibility.”
American voters reiterated their support of these statements following the midterm elections. According to exit polling conducted by FAIR, 80 percent of Republican voters and 53 percent of swing voters support President Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall along America’s southern border. However, as the funding deadline gets closer, actual wall funding only appears further away.
To recap, Congress failed to reach an agreement on several spending bills by the September 30 deadline, including: Interior and Environment, Financial Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Science, State and Foreign Operations, and Homeland Security. To avoid a government shutdown, these bills were attached to a “minibus” of two other spending bills in the form of a continuing resolution through December 7, which Congress passed and the president signed shortly after. Although multiple federal agencies still need annual funding, it is the Department of Homeland Security (and by extension President Trump’s border wall) that remains the main point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.
On Monday, following the death of former President George H.W. Bush, President Trump signaled his intent to sign a short-term continuing resolution — pushing the funding fight until after the former president’s funeral services. Unfortunately, instead of simply pushing the deadline a few respectful days, reports indicate that House leadership will be placing a two week stopgap spending plan on the floor with the new funding deadline becoming December 21. This stopgap measure is expected to be passed by unanimous consent according to a Republican leadership aide.
Throughout the year, President Trump has repeatedly requested at least $5 billion in wall funding before the end of this session. But Senate Democrats have vocalized an unwillingness to give the president any more than $1.6 billion, raising fears of a possible partial government shutdown if no agreement is reached. However, the reality is that this new deadline will likely pressure lawmakers to accept whatever language leadership offers simply to get home in time for Christmas. Additionally, the vote will likely take place at a time when the American people are distracted by the holidays and thus less likely to notice.
Ultimately, if Republicans in Congress do give into holiday pressure and agree to a deal that does not include wall funding, President Trump will be able to veto the measure. However, he has threatened to veto spending packages before, only to sign the measures once they arrived on his desk.
Heather Ham-Warren writes for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform.