Congressional Republicans know the president’s push for a border wall is a political fake.
The best evidence is that no one in Congress representing a district on the southern border supports the wall. That includes the lone Republican, Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDreamers-for-wall trade going nowhere in House On The Money: Trump says he won’t declare emergency ‘so fast’ | Shutdown poised to become longest in history | Congress approves back pay for workers | More federal unions sue over shutdown Overnight Energy: House votes to reopen Interior, EPA | Dems question EPA over Wheeler confirmation prep | Virginia Dem backs Green New Deal MORE of Texas.
“A giant barrier from ‘sea to shining sea’ is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security,” Hurd recently told CNN. He voted with Democrats last week to end the government shutdown without giving Trump money for a wall.
By the way, polls show most Texans oppose the wall. Polls also show most Americans — a majority of Democrats and independents — blaming the president and his enablers in Congress for the shutdown.
The polls do show Trump has overwhelming support from his base. But that is a shrinking share of voters. Trump is dizzy from his own spin when he tweets that even as the party loses the current fight, “We have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”
Doug Heye, a former strategist for the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill, told the Washington Examiner last week that congressional Republicans are locked in a trap of their own making.
“Republicans have pulled a gun and taken themselves hostage,” he said of the damaging, downward political spiral brought on by a president who openly declared last month he would be responsible for this government shutdown.
It is a bad look for Republicans on Capitol Hill to promise to deliver tax refunds and food stamp checks even though their leader is the one who closed government offices.
Republicans also know they are open to charges of hypocrisy if their president declares a national emergency to get around his failure to get GOP majorities in the House and Senate over the last two years to fund a wall.
Conservatives have long opposed executive orders by presidents to enact new federal rules without congressional approval. And not one of the 58 emergency orders in U.S. history was used by a president to circumvent Congress’ constitutional power to control federal funding.
So, if Trump takes the radical step of declaring an emergency, he will have to violate another long-standing Republican pledge to oppose federal agents seizing private land for public use under the claim of “eminent domain.”
Trump’s border wall would require the federal government to assert sweeping new eminent domain powers to literally seize Texans’ land. Where are those small government, pro-private property Republicans now?
And remember that leading Republicans are on the record admitting that the wall will not make the border more secure.
Here’s Trump’s current chief of staff, Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump chastised Mulvaney during shutdown meeting: report Hillicon Valley: House chair seeks emergency briefing on wireless industry’s data sharing | AG nominee to recuse himself from AT&T-Time Warner merger | Dem questions Treasury, IRS on shutdown cyber risks Trump on declaring national emergency: ‘Not going to do it so fast’ MORE, back in 2015:
“By the way, the bottom line is the fence doesn’t stop anybody who really wants to get across,” Mulvaney, then a congressman, told a South Carolina radio show.
“You go under, you go around… And that’s what the ranchers tell us, is that they don’t need a fence. What they need is more manpower, and more technology… So it’s easy to tell people what they want to hear — ‘build the darn fence, vote for me.’”
The most incredible honesty about the deceit comes from Trump himself. The man who repeatedly promised to get Mexico — not American taxpayers — to pay for the wall did an about-face last week. He said he knows Mexico is not going to write a check to “build the wall,” as his supporters used to chant at rallies.
“When during the campaign I would say ‘Mexico’s going to pay for it,’ obviously I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check…They are paying for it with the incredible [new trade] deal…we made,” Trump said last week.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Sunday found 53 percent of Americans believe that Trump and Republicans are “mainly responsible” for the shutdown, while only 29 percent blame Democrats in Congress. A CNN poll conducted by SSRS, also released on Sunday, indicated that 55 percent of adults believe Trump bears primary responsibility while 32 percent point the finger at Democrats.
A Quinnipiac University poll taken in December found 54 percent of voters opposed to building the wall and just 43 percent supporting the idea.
But Trump keeps digging a deep hole for Republicans even with illegal border crossings at a 20-year low.
He wants to thrill conservative media figures like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh with talk of an “invasion” and fear mongering over terrorists and drug dealers.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace busted White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders this month when she claimed “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.”
“Do you know where those 4,000 people…where they’re captured?” Wallace asked Sanders. “Airports. The State Department says there hasn’t been any terrorists that they’ve found coming across the southern border with Mexico.”
The editors of USA Today similarly called out Trump’s claim of drugs “pouring” over the border.
“But federal data show the majority captured at the border come through legal entry points, which a wall won’t stop. Same goes for criminals: 60% of those caught also came through legal entries,” USA Today reported.
Republicans in Congress know all these facts.
The only wall being constructed is the one separating Trump and his supporters from reality.
Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.