One of then-candidate Donald Trump’s famous promises on the campaign trail was to build a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” on America’s southern border. He even once, albeit facetiously, branded his wall the “Great Wall of Trump.”
But now Trump is facing a somewhat surprising roadblock — a GOP-controlled Congress.
Yahoo reports that Republicans in Congress have “urged the president to focus on border security in general instead of the wall,” while Democrats remain totally resistant to any discussion on increased border security measurements, calling the wall proposal a “poison pill.”
President Trump made clear to his supporters in a tweet on Tuesday that he remains committed to building the wall.
Instead of championing a border wall, party elites appear to be ignoring the will of the people by rejecting budget proposals that would fund it.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deserve the brunt of the blame for this latest failure.
Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, both of the top Republican congressional leaders vowed that Congress would provide billions of dollars in funding for the border wall. At the time, Speaker Ryan estimated that the wall would cost between $12-$15 billion.
To jump-start the initial building process, the White House asked Congress to include payment for border infrastructure using the fiscal 2017 spending process.
Trump’s request that Congress include $1.4 billion in the budget to fund the beginning of his proposed border wall “equals approximately 0.035 percent of what the federal government will spend in total this year,” CNSNews.com reports.
Apparently, taxpayers are no longer entitled to deciding how the government spends .035 percent of their own dollars, despite paying record income and payroll taxes through the first six months of fiscal 2017.
The GOP’s “200 Day Plan” laid out goals for the Trump administration and Congress to accomplish before their extended August recess. One of those goals was to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as, repeal and replace Obamacare and overhaul the tax code. Despite an encouraging early statement from the Speaker, who said that the leadership in Congress was “working with the administration on a daily basis to map out and plan a very bold and aggressive agenda to make good on our campaign promises,” very little headway has actually been made by Congress on this important campaign promise.
More than 10 years ago, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which provides the Trump administration with the legislation needed to move forward with its plan to build a physical wall. However, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly blocked funding for the wall, insisting that the wall would cost too much and that it doesn’t fit into their plan for “comprehensive immigration reform.” Because Congress controls the power of the purse, Trump will remain handcuffed until lawmakers in the Legislative Branch pass a budget that appropriates funds for the wall.
Now that they have reportedly pushed back funding for construction of the wall until September, Congress — led by Speaker Paul Ryan — will have failed to act on one of its original goals presented to the American people. This does not exactly evoke confidence in voters that Republicans in Congress can fulfill any of the other promises they made in January.
Sixty-five percent of Republicans want Trump to build the wall during his first year in office, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll published last December. And a recent Quinnipiac University survey found that 77 percent of Republicans are still in favor of building a wall; this number is down slightly from 79 percent who were in favor of the wall last August, per a Pew Research survey.
Perhaps even more egregious than disrespecting the wishes of their constituents, is congressional leadership’s disregard for the views of border patrol agents on the ground.
“President Trump promised that he was going to secure the border, and part of securing the border is putting in place the proper technology and resources that allows us to be successful, and a border wall in strategic locations is one of those things that we must get done,” Border Patrol Agent Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox Business Channel’s Stuart Varney.
By kicking the proverbial can down the road, Congress risks incurring the wrath of tens of million of Americans who voted for Donald Trump, in large part, because they were fed up with the apathy and inaction shown by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Republicans in Congress are either missing the red flags that voters are sending them, or willfully neglecting to tackle head-on the issues that are important to their constituents. Without help from Republicans in Congress, President Trump will never be able to fully deliver on the wall — a promise many believe was the cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign.
But who’s to say that’s not the endgame?