Make no mistake: the hottest fight in Washington, D.C. this chilly week is about a single word. Dems and Repubs are not warring over a grand concept or raging over a complicated policy. They are very pointedly doing battle over a single word. And that word is “wall.”
Simply put, President Trump is demanding (once again) to have funding specifically designated for a wall on the U.S./Mexico border. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is insisting (once again) there will be no money for a wall in the new budget deal.
The word matters to Trump because throughout his campaign and his first two years in office, he told his followers he was absolutely going to build this wall. Sure, he constantly changed the specs about the height, thickness, material and so on (let’s just put aside that whole canard about Mexico paying,) but the call and response with his loyal followers has always been some version of “Build that wall!”
Simultaneously, the word matters to Pelosi and her Democrats because they have repeatedly ripped the idea, saying a wall would be a symbol of intolerance, and bigotry unworthy of a great nation built by immigrants.
Remember both sides broadly acknowledge that border security depends on surveillance, patrols, intelligence, and hundreds of miles of fences, barriers, and yes – walls – which are already in place. Funding for these systems has been supported by both parties. Furthermore, as their opening bid in the latest budget talks, the Dems are offering more than $14-billion for border security (which Pelosi says could include “enhanced fencing,”) and more than $7-billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
For a while, Trump said he’d accept some sort of steel slat barrier or fence – it didn’t have to be a wall as such. But that was mainly before Pelosi thrashed him in the first budget battle, before conservative commentators ridiculed his defeat, and before some voters in his own base accused him of betrayal. So now Trump is again saying, “If there is no wall, it doesn’t work.” And the one thing that word is almost certainly blocking, is any hope of compromise.