(1/21/19) It should be good news that both President Donald Trump’s Republicans and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats plan to vote to reopen the government this week.
But since they are voting on vastly different plans, this new phase of their confrontation is more likely to expose the gulf between them than to end the longest federal shutdown in history anytime soon.
Trump on Saturday made his most significant move yet in an impasse now nearly a month in by offering temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants in return for $5.7 billion in funding for his border wall.
As Republicans see it, Trump’s speech from the White House is a statesmanlike effort to meet Democrats halfway in a bid to end the partial government shutdown.
“This is a common-sense compromise both parties should embrace,” Trump said.
But the plan, negotiated within the White House and among Republicans, was never likely to entice the support of Democrats since it does little to address their concerns. And Democrats insist that the government reopen before talks on thorny immigration issues begin.
Trump’s proposal is unlikely to get 800,000 federal workers now missing paychecks back to work. So the question is whether it will be any more successful for the President in transferring the blame he is currently shouldering for the shutdown to Democrats.
In many ways, Trump’s approach is familiar. The President ignited a crisis last month by closing the government in a last bid to get taxpayer money for a wall that is crucial to his political standing and that he had said Mexico would pay for.
Then, as on other issues, like his trade wars with US allies, he offers a plan to end a crisis he precipitated that doesn’t fully address the issue, but that he can sell as a great deal everyone should sign up to.
Trump certainly gave the impression of moving toward Democrats by offering a three-year reprieve from deportation for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children and protection to thousands of other migrants.
And by styling his wall as “steel barriers in high-priority locations” in the speech and not a concrete slab from “sea to shining sea,” the President also appeared to soften his positions.
His plan does allow more mainstream Republicans to argue he is making an effort and that Pelosi’s Democrats are standing in the way of reopening the government.
“For the President to put this out there, I think, was a bold move,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said Sunday on CNN. “For the Democrats to just reject it because there is a barrier in there — come back with a counterproposal that’s serious then, but not one that says here is a counterproposal but in no way will we ever talk about a barrier.”