Partisan walls get constructed quickly
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has run into a wall. It’s the new Democratic House.
In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, Trump argued Tuesday night that a security and humanitarian crisis at the Mexican border has made it imperative for Congress to approve his immigration proposal, including allocating $5.7 billion for a wall he said will block illegal immigration and illicit drugs.
“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” the president said in a blunt appeal to congressional Democrats after detailing murders undocumented immigrants are accused of committing in California, Georgia and Maryland. “To those who refused to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask, imagine if it was your child, your husband or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken.”
The president’s demand for money to build a wall, the signature promise of his 2016 presidential campaign, has smashed into the flat rejection of that idea by congressional Democrats. That battle, the knot at the center of the partial government shutdown, looms as the first test of wills in the nation’s new divided government.
Trump’s 10-minute speech was followed by joint remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, also carried in prime time by the major television networks. Pelosi decried the president’s remarks as “full of misinformation and even malice.” Standing side-by-side with Schumer at a single lectern, six American flags behind them, she accused Trump of using the shutdown to hold “the American people hostage.”
Both sides tried to convince voters that they were the reasonable ones and the other side the obstructionists, though neither volunteered the sort of gesture that might clear a path toward a compromise.
Congressional Republicans didn’t deliver money for Trump’s wall when they were in charge over the past two years, and the shutdown began on their watch. But they didn’t openly defy him on that issue, or many others.
The Democrats were all defiance, and surely not for the last time. Schumer accused Trump of trying to “govern by temper tantrum.”
President Donald Trump makes his case for border wall funding in a prime-time address Tuesday from the Oval Office.