Trump races an imaginary deadline to get his border wall on track – Washington Post

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Trump races an imaginary deadline to get his border wall on track – Washington Postby wpjljron.Trump races an imaginary deadline to get his border wall on track – Washington PostWant smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every weekday along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions to know? Sign up for the Today’s WorldView newsletter. President Trump is nearing his 100th day in office this week, but there’s apparently anxiety in the White House that not enough has been […]

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President Trump is nearing his 100th day in office this week, but there’s apparently anxiety in the White House that not enough has been accomplished. So the administration has a plan: It’s time to “build that wall” — or shut down the government trying.

As The Washington Post’s Kelsey Snell and Robert Costa report, the White House is leaning on congressional Republicans to use the threat of a government shutdown Friday to win funding for Trump’s long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The idea is simple: Lawmakers in both parties want to keep the government open past April 28, when the current budget resolution expires. Trump would force them to include funding for his wall in a spending measure designed to avoid a shutdown next week. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has suggested Trump would refuse to sign a spending bill that did not include funding for a wall. (The president himself hasn’t gone as far, as you’ll read later in the newsletter.)

By tying the wall’s funding to critical legislation, Trump might be able to sidestep lawmakers’ concerns about spending money — as much as $21.6 billion, according to experts — on the wildly controversial project. As you may expect, many Democrats are against building the wall — but they are far from alone. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that many Republican lawmakers who represent border regions are withholding support for Trump’s initial $1.4 billion request to start construction. No member of Congress from either party supported the plan, the Journal reported.

So what happened to Mexico footing the bill? That’s a good question. Trump asserted throughout the campaign that America’s southern neighbors would pay for the wall — an always unlikely proposal that was repeatedly and unequivocally rejected by Mexican authorities.

Trump has suggested that the $1.4 billion is just to get the ball rolling, and Mexico will pick it up later. But there are signs that even he understands the Mexicans won’t pay, including this tweet from Sunday:

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that Mexico would pay “in some form” for the wall “eventually, but at a later date.” In an interview with CNN later that day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he did not think Mexico would ever agree to pay for it. “I don’t expect the Mexican government to appropriate money for it,” Sessions said. “But there are ways that we can deal with our trade situation to create the revenue to pay for it. No doubt about it.”

It’s not clear what exactly that means. Trump has suggested he would cut off payments sent home by Mexicans in the United States, while Sessions said in the CNN interview that money could come from cutting off erroneously issued tax credits to people without work authorization, whom he claimed are “mostly Mexicans.” Other ideas include a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico or House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan for a broader “border adjustment tax” that could affect all imports.

Such measures hold some appeal, but they also raise their own problems. Some critics worry that Trump, more used to negotiating cutthroat business deals, may push for a measure that humiliates Mexico or has a major negative effect on its economy (cutting off remittances to Mexico, for example, could be disastrous). Some suspect a hard line from Trump could even propel Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist compared by opponents to the late Hugo Chávez, to the Mexican presidency next year.

Given the difficulties in getting funding for the wall, it’s worth asking whether it’s needed at all. A January report from the Pew Research Center estimated that, since 2012, Mexicans have been leaving the United States in greater numbers than they arrive.

And even if Trump did want to stop those who continue to enter the United States illegally, a “big, beautiful wall” may be a bad way to do it. It would likely require the controversial use of eminent domain to seize land along the nearly 2,000-mile border — which is one reason members of Congress from border areas are reluctant to approve funding. John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, recently seemed to admit that such a plan wasn’t feasible and that it was “unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea.”


Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly at the U.S.-Mexic0 border in San Diego on April 21. (Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

So why does Trump keep pushing the issue? For one, he seems to believe the wall is popular. “People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it,” Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press. The second part of that may be true, but the first is definitely not: Polls from a variety of sources show that a majority of Americans don’t want a wall and that many also don’t think it will have a significant effect on illegal immigration.

The real secret to the policy is likely the timing. The deadline for the government to avert a shutdown comes the same day that Trump reaches 100 days in office — long considered the “honeymoon” during which a president can push through legislative achievements. Trump signed an executive order calling for a border wall within days of entering office in January, and he told reporters that construction would start “within months.” Before he was elected, he had declared that funding the construction of that wall would be part of his “100-day plan to make America great again.”

With that self-imposed deadline approaching, Trump is pushing for a major achievement. But it’s unclear whether the achievement he wants is building the wall itself — or getting the headline he wants in time.

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Source Article from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/25/trump-races-an-imaginary-deadline-to-get-his-border-wall-on-track/

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