Trump's Prime-Time Bid to End Border Wall Impasse Falls Flat




 

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump summoned the nation's attention to the Oval Office on Tuesday for a prime time pronouncement on the border wall standoff at the center of the government shutdown. Then, he offered nothing new.

Instead, Trump used the president's most symbolic and powerful perch -- traditionally reserved for times of war or calls for national unity -- to rattle off familiar statistics, renew complaints about Democratic criticism of his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and reprise ominous anecdotes of brutal crimes committed by people he said were in the country illegally.

"Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders," Trump said. "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"

The address offered little hope of a breakthrough in negotiations over the shutdown, leaving the argument about where it was before Trump began talking. The impasse doesn't look likely to end soon. And that may start impacting the U.S. credit rating.

Fitch Ratings Ltd. warned on Wednesday of a possible cut to the U.S. triple-A sovereign credit rating later this year, Reuters reported, citing a comment by Fitch's global head of sovereign ratings James McCormack. McCormack warned that if the shutdown continues to March 1 and subsequently interferes with efforts to raise the debt ceiling, Fitch may need to consider whether the policy framework and the inability to pass a spending bill are consistent with a triple-A rating.

Trump's remarks made Democrats' evening easier. In a brief response to the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer also offered no new solution to the impasse -- though it was Trump, not his opponents, who asked for television time on Tuesday. Pelosi and Schumer reiterated their position: sign legislation to end the shutdown, then negotiate over border security.

"The president is rejecting these bipartisan bills, which would reopen government, over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for," Pelosi said.

The president's address was the latest in a series of public appearances -- including a cabinet meeting, a statement in the White House briefing room at which he was flanked by border patrol officers, and a news conference last week -- in which Trump simply reiterated his demands without offering any concessions. Wielding the bully pulpit, Trump has done nothing since shutting down much of the government Dec. 22 to advance his argument or resolve the dispute.

He also has failed to persuade most Americans that he's right. Fifty-one percent of adults surveyed Jan. 1-7 said Trump "deserves most of the blame" for the shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday. That's up four points from a similar poll conducted Dec. 21-25.

The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Wednesday. Trump invited leading lawmakers from both parties to the White House for talks. The president and Vice President Mike Pence will attend lunch with Republican senators as well.

Both sides see little political downside to standing firm. The White House feels no political pressure from Trump's base supporters, who see immigration as a top issue and a wall as a permanent solution to the problem, White House aides say. Newly empowered Democrats, meanwhile, have been urged by their base to fight Trump's signature campaign pledge.

With neither side feeling the political heat, there is little incentive to offer significant concessions or find middle ground.

Trump's decision to use peak television airtime shows he is trying to reach beyond his base to garner support. But the move also gave his opponents a high-profile platform to make their counter-argument.

As the shutdown enters its 19th day, 800,000 federal workers are increasingly likely to miss their first pay checks due at the end of the week. There's little concern about that within the White House, where it's regarded as a problem mainly felt in Washington -- despite the fact that thousands of federal workers live outside of the capital area.

To keep the broader public from feeling much pain from the shutdown, however, the administration has taken a series of unusual steps: national parks remained open, tax refunds will be issued, and the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget told House Republicans on Tuesday that low-income people will continue to receive food stamps.

Conservative radio and television pundits have encouraged Trump to hold his ground. Trump will travel to the border on Thursday to once again make his case for the wall.

Trump's conservative allies have argued for him to declare a national emergency and use Defense Department funds to build a wall, seeing the move as his best chance of achieving the campaign promise while Democrats control the House. It could also provide an easy, face-saving path from the political quagmire, though Democrats have said they would challenge an emergency declaration in court.

Trump's allies believe there is a good chance the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court would line up behind the GOP president -- and if not, political blame can simply directed toward the justices who rule against him.

Trump has asserted that he has the authority to build a wall without congressional approval if he declares a national emergency, but the White House hasn't explained the legal justification. Democrats have rejected the idea as an illegal overreach of presidential authority but Republican lawmakers -- who repeatedly challenged former President Barack Obama's attempts to exert executive authority -- have been relatively quiet.

(Updates with Fitch warning in fifth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Deana Kjuka.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shannon Pettypiece in Washington at spettypiece@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Joshua Gallu

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump
Trump's border wall money may come at expense of schools for military kids
  • US
  • 2019-03-20 20:01:47Z

The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump's much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers. The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected. The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration's oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House's desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.

Trump: Mueller report
Trump: Mueller report 'ridiculous' but should be released

"Let it come out, let people see it," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Wednesday for a trip to Ohio. Mueller is expected to present a report to the Justice Department any day now outlining the findings of his nearly two-year investigation into Russian election meddling, possible

Warren backs congressional plan for reparations study
Warren backs congressional plan for reparations study

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Monday embraced a congressional proposal to study a framework for reparations to African-Americans hurt by the legacy of slavery as the best way to begin a "national, full-blown conversation" on the issue.

Poll: Half of Americans say Trump is victim of a 'witch hunt' as trust in Mueller erodes
Poll: Half of Americans say Trump is victim of a 'witch hunt' as trust in Mueller erodes

As the Russia report seems near, a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll finds half of Americans agree Trump is the victim of a "witch hunt," and trust in Mueller erodes.

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey's Grief Over New Zealand Turns To Anger Against Trump

Carrey's new artwork shows Trump's head, with an angry, soulless expressionand a Nazi swastika on the forehead, as a blazing asteroid streaking towardEarth

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.