Politics & Policy

Republicans Are Stuck with a Lousy Deal

President Trump listens during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, February 12, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The great National Review editor James Burnham famously said, “When there is no alternative, there is no problem.” By this standard, the border deal reached by congressional appropriators this week isn’t a problem for Donald Trump.

The deal falls far short of his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier at the border. At $1.37 billion, it is short even of what had been the Senate’s bipartisan compromise of $1.6 billion before the shutdown drama.

But the other options aren’t palatable. If the president opts for a so-called continuing resolution in lieu of the deal, he will get less funding for a barrier, because the CR is based on current spending levels. If he opts for another shutdown confrontation, he is likely to be abandoned by Senate Republicans not eager for a third kick from Mitch McConnell’s proverbial mule.

If this is a disappointing state of affairs, it’s a product of poor choices, by Trump and congressional Republicans, on one of the president’s top political priorities. It was malpractice not to get more funding for a border barrier out of Congress when it was held by Republicans (though the Democrats might have filibustered any deal they didn’t like). It was bizarre that the White House didn’t formally request more funding last year, before Trump drastically increased his demand to $5.7 billion near the end of process. Finally, it was foolhardy to lurch into a shutdown without a viable strategy for getting out of it.

At least the current deal doesn’t reflect Nancy Pelosi’s vow not to approve a dollar for a border barrier, and Democrats backed off their demand in the negotiations for a hard cap on ICE detentions.

So, the cup is a quarter full. Of course, this isn’t to President Trump’s liking. We bristle at any president who talks of going around Congress the way Trump has, but if there are really pots of money that can be legally diverted to the wall, this would be his prerogative (and Congress should consider tightening up on the purse strings going forward).

But taking the congressional compromise shouldn’t be a problem for Trump — because there’s no alternative.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (conference calls, social-media groups, etc.). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going. Consider it?

If you enjoyed this article, and were stimulated by its contents, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.

LEARN MORE
The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Culture

Cold Brew’s Insidious Hegemony

Soon, many parts of the United States will be unbearably hot. Texans and Arizonans will be able to bake cookies on their car dashboards; the garbage on the streets of New York will be especially pungent; Washington will not only figuratively be a swamp. And all across America, coffee consumers will turn their ... Read More
National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More
Immigration

The Merit of Merit-Based Immigration

Having chain-migrated his way into the White House and a little bit of political power, Donald Trump’s son-in-law is shopping around an immigration plan. And if you can get past the hilarious juxtaposition of the words “merit-based” and “Jared Kushner,” it’s a pretty good one. As things stand, the ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More
NR Webathon

Socialism Is about Taking, Not Giving

The snakiest of snake-oil pitches goes like this: Give us some of your freedom and we’ll take care of you. Socialists have been making similar claims back as far as Plato. The end result doesn’t have to be Venezuela. It can just be . . . Europe. What’s wrong with Europe? Despite a turn away from ... Read More