While Donald Trump is openly bragging about his willingness to break the law and rewarding those who break it on his behalf, 2020 looms large on his mind. He doesn’t care who he’ll hurt, so long as he can secure himself a second term victory. That’s why he fired the pollsters who showed him performing poorly in states he needed to win, and why he’s threatening to shut down the government yet again if it doesn’t include funding for his border wall. This time, however, Republicans aren’t so quick to rush to his side.
One of the problems is that the government is funded through September 30. A shutdown happening in October would be a disaster for the smattering of Republicans running in gubernatorial and state legislative races in 2019, and would probably be stuck in the minds of a few voters in 2020, when a number of Republican Senators are facing re-election. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, knows that no Democrat will vote on a bill that includes $5 billion for the wall, particularly if some are willing to risk their congressional careers to impeach Trump.
They also have little to bargain with, as a bill Democrats would support would require an increase in nondefense spending – something that right-wing media would tear into congressional Republicans for, and Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, would have to back out of a two-year spending deal he already made with Shelby and Mitch McConnell.
The White House sending a demand for wall funding this far in advance only made it clear that they don’t have leverage – they need to at least look like headway is being made on the wall if Trump wants re-election and doesn’t care how it will affect their allies in Congress. That move backfired, as now Shelby is looking to work on a new budget alongside Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making