It’s the longest government shutdown in American history. When will it end? Nobody knows. House Democrats and President Trump are not budging from their positions that set off this chain of events. Trump wants $5 billion for a border wall. Democrats don’t want to give him one cent. One side wants to secure our borders, curb illegal immigration, human trafficking, and the transportation of narcotics. The other side doesn’t. For the Left, it’s all about sticking it to Trump. And so, the shutdown drags on. So, what could break the impasse? How about giving Trump everything he wants in terms of border wall funding in exchange for…the Robert Mueller protection bill Democrats, and some Republicans, have been clamoring about? Now, Morley Winograd, a senior policy adviser to former Vice President Al Gore, floated the idea, which for argument’s sake—isn’t necessarily that off base in terms of having a discussion. At the same time, Winograd thinks the shutdown is a way to distract us from the pending Mueller report (via Brookings):
To end the government shutdown, the Democrats should give Trump what he wants—$5 billion for the wall—and insist in return on what the country needs: complete protection of the Mueller investigation and the full public disclosure of its report.
President Trump’s shutdown is nothing more than a shiny bauble to distract the American public from the real threat to the president’s future—Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and his forthcoming report. The president has insisted that he will not agree to reopen parts of the federal government, even those agencies whose functions have nothing to do with border security unless Congress appropriates $5.7 billion to start fulfilling his most well-known campaign promise to create a wall on the Mexican border. Even as this idea has morphed from Mexico paying for the wall to U.S. taxpayers picking up the tab, and from a concrete barrier to a set of steel slats, Trump has continued to insist his presidency depends on its construction.
There is a simple way to get past Trump’s latest PR stunt and end the government shutdown at the same time.
The House Democrats should pass all the remaining appropriations bills that have passed both the House and the Senate at least once already—but with just a few amendments. The first change would be to add up to $5.7 billion for construction of an effective barrier on the southern border as Trump has insisted upon. The second set of changes would be to insert and amend the current bipartisan Senate bill designed to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation and his ultimate report.
Of course, adding money for the wall will be a hard pill for many Democrats to swallow. Legislative language that makes it clear it is not a literal concrete wall and provides for some continuing review of its effectiveness could help mitigate those concerns. But ultimately, Democrats should pay more attention to the long game that needs to be played here on behalf of the future of our democracy and to the need to end the suffering of hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have become the innocent victims of Trump’s vanity. A wall may well prove to be a $5 billion waste of money, but it is a small price to pay to finally expose the real threat to our country’s security that currently inhabits the Oval Office.
Now, of course, there are legal issues concerning the constitutionality of the protection bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that on face value, the president would never sign it. At the time, he was commenting on then-Sen. Jeff Flake’s crusade of torpedoing the GOP judicial agenda, blocking advancement and confirmation votes for judges unless this bill received a Senate vote. Flake was a pain until the bitter end.
Also, once again, we see how the Democrats are so sure that there will be something in this report that could impeach Trump. They’re willing to pay a $5 billion fee for it. Second, if there is any language diluting the structure of the wall, Trump should nix it obviously. We want a wall. The GOP wants a wall. Those who support border security want a wall. In all, it’s an exercise for debate, but this Mueller protection nonsense is a poison pill. Then again, let’s not forget that the administration was willing to grant amnesty to nearly two million illegals in exchange for a wall and tougher immigration laws. Democrats balked at that proposal, despite Trump promising to grant a pathway to citizenship to nearly three times as many people enrolled in the Obama-era DACA program. Would that be something that would have been taken smoothly with the GOP base? With this mental exercise, it’s only passing, hypothetically, a bill, not granting legal status to 1+ million people who had broken federal immigration laws.
What say you, guys? Frankly, I’m not minding this shutdown right now.