Yesterday was a bad day for Donald Trump. He effectively gave up on his Wall but, because he’s a coward, had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell give the country the news. McConnell announced late yesterday that Trump had agreed to sign a bi-partisan spending bill that funded the government through September but only included $1.3 billion for border security and fencing enhancements. McConnell then announced that Trump intended to declare a national emergency in order to get additional money for his wall, since the spending bill was a big fat bi-partisan NO on wall funding.
So Trump lost on the spending bill in almost every conceivable way–no concrete or metal wall funding and severe restrictions on how the border security money is spent. But Trump’s declaration of a national emergency will also be a huge loss. Simply put, Trump will never get his wall. Once his national emergency is declared, it will face immediate court challenge. And it seems highly likely that his declaration will be declared invalid by the courts. His clear purpose is to thwart the express intent of Congress, which goes directly against the spirit of the emergency declaration act. But even if a court lets him proceed, Congress can also vote against his emergency declaration in a joint resolution, which has already been drafted by Democrats in the House. It’s not clear that enough Republicans Senators would vote no on the resolution, so Trump’s declaration could get voted down by Congress. But even if it didn’t, the wall would face hundreds of court challenges by the land owners along the border whose properties would need to be taken by the government through eminent domain (a concept Republicans hate). This process would take years and even if it all went Trump’s way, he would be out of office by the time a wall started in earnest. Meanwhile, a Democrat president could vacate the project.
So the bottom line is, Trump will not get his wall.
This process illuminates the fact that Trump is one of the worst negotiators to occupy the White House in modern history. It has become staggeringly obvious that when real-estate heir Donald Trump spent his Daddy’s money on big buildings in Manhattan, he pretended to be a Dealmaker when in fact he was just a money-bags target for contractors. When you’re rich, you can bully people into concessions and favorable terms because they want your business. But bullying isn’t negotiating, as Trump’s wall debacle proves.
Beyond the immediate defeat of Trump’s wall, Republicans are now horrified that Trump’s declaration of a national emergency opens the door for future presidents to skirt Congress and declare emergencies for things like (gasp) climate change or guns. We should be so lucky. But Trump’s declaration is more the stuff of monarchs and dictators, which has many Republicans backing away from him in a way they haven’t before.
To be sure, Trump will try to spin the spending bill as a “downpayment” on his yuge wall project, and any challenge he gets from the courts or Congress will then let him scream to his base, “You see! It’s the deep state and the evil Libtards thwarting the will of the people!” But Trump’s base isn’t enough to get him elected again, and the more extreme his behavior, the more independent votes he will lose at the margins.
So just to recap, yesterday was a major defeat for Trump and his fantasy border wall.
Happy Friday. Keep resisting…