There Is A Security Crisis At The Border; The Wall Is Not The Answer…
Before we start, we have just one question (and it isn’t even our idea): If Congress can’t vote through a budget that the President will sign, instead of shutting down the government, why not make it so whatever budget was in place previously just continues until they figure it out?
Most interesting to us is the new Quinnipiac poll, which finds that 55% of Americans oppose the wall. At the same time an almost identical number: 54% agree that there is a security crisis at the Southern Border. So Trump could probably get a lot of what he’s been asking for in terms of funding for additional security at the border if he was willing to back down from his wall demands. But that’s not going to happen: partly because he’s made it too symbolic, and also because the President apparently believes Democrats are just using anti-wall rhetoric as a ploy to gain popularity heading into the 2020 Presidential Election. At the American Farm Bureau Convention in Louisiana, Trump telling the audience:
“They think that’s a good thing for 2020, because they’re not going to win. They think if they can stop me from building the wall, that’s good. This is the reason they don’t want the wall built. Because they all know it works.”
As the Rasmussen Presidential tracking poll, which the President often touts on Twitter, as it typically puts him in a more favorable light than other polls, showed an approval rating of 43%, his lowest in almost a year.
The House in the next couple of days will vote on two very short term spending bills, to reflect the Democrats’ intent that the government must reopen before they’ll start talking. One would fund the government through February 1st, the other through February 28th. Even if either or both pass, it’s not likely the Senate will take them up.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group forms in the Senate to discuss long-shot possibilities for a near-term compromise.
And any short-term resolution would almost certainly have to originate in the Senate, since Congress is pretty dug in on not giving the President his wall funding, and Trump says he won’t reopen the government unless he gets it. Trump said he’d rejected the latest overture from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who suggested the President allow the government to be reopened for a limited time, and if negotiations weren’t to his liking at the end of that period, he could declare a “national emergency” and build his wall.
Senators from both parties are kind of walking a tightrope, because they’ll risk alienating others in their parties, or the President, if they pass something that’s perceived as putting undue pressure on one side or the other.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he won’t put anything up for a vote that the President won’t sign. A move designed almost solely to save the President from the ignominy of vetoing bills to reopen the government. He hasn’t said the same for a measure that would force the hand of the Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. So why would Democrats in the Senate go along with that? Maybe for that reason, so far, doesn’t sound like it’s going very well. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin saying “I sat there for an hour and didn’t know what the hell it was about”.
And McConnell finally spoke up about the shutdown, taking to the floor of the Senate for about a 10-minute speech in which he staunchly defended Trump, even though Trump undermined McConnell’s efforts to keep the government open right before the shutdown started. The House, now controlled by Democrats, has made a point of passing pretty much exactly the same legislation as McConnell shepherded through the Republican-controlled Senate, and then Trump suddenly refused to sign, after he was berated by Right-wing commentators and TV hosts. That’s because McConnell’s legislation didn’t promise funding for Trump’s wall.
But now, the Majority Leader attempted to swing the spotlight on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying:
“So what’s happening here is that federal workers are paying for this far-Left ideological crusade.”
One thing Trump might be looking at to put him back on an upswing is progress on North Korea. And South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper today reported that a top North Korean diplomat is on his way to D.C. for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That could set up a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un. Many Asian news sources are already reporting that meeting will take place in Vietnam. The South Korean report suggests part of the reason for this week’s preliminaries will be to hash out an agreement that goes beyond the expressions of good intent that came out of the leaders’ first meeting, but falls short of full, immediate denuclearization on North Korea’s part, which is what Trump had been demanding. Now apparently, something along the lines of a loosening of sanctions by the U.S. in exchange for a nuclear “freeze” by North Korea may be on the table.
We also recently discussed China’s growing role in the negotiations: Kim visited President Xi recently, and a reciprocal visit is scheduled for April. What does China have to gain? Well, if Turkey’s President Erdogan talked Trump into immediately pulling a couple of thousand U.S. troops from Syria in the course of a single phone call, what might President Xi be able to do with the more than 23,000 U.S. troops in South Korea, if Trump perceives North Korea to be less of a threat? (Of course, those troops are there as much as a balance to China in the area, but Trump may not see that being of grave importance.)
Meanwhile, another South Korean news agency, Yonhap, reports Kim paid a visit to a testing site to confirm the successful test of a mysterious new “state-of-the-art weapon”. But North Korea did not specify what that weapon is.