Who is Going to Open the Border?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had an ugly, impromptu press conference at the White House today with President Donald Trump.

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The primary point at issue was money to build Trump’s border wall, a key point in his campaign for president, and one of the few things he seems to be able to remember for two years now. Republican Senators agreed to provide some funding for it, but that was before Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the November elections. The Constitution expressly states that all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives, although the Senate still gets to vote and may propose amendments, so the House is more important than the Senate for purposes of the federal budget.

Making the situation more complicated is the fact that the current continuing resolution, which Republicans continue to use to fund the federal government, rather than return to regular order and produce an annual budget, expired on December 7, meaning that the government is in peril of shutting down any day now.

Trump has stated emphatically that he is willing to shut down the federal government as a device to blackmail Democrats into giving him money for the wall.

This is classic Trump stupidity. By stating loudly that he is willing to shut the government down, he virtually guarantees that if a shut down happens, he and the Republicans will get the blame for it, which smarter Republicans have figured out they want to avoid.

Then there is the point that Trump keeps saying, falsely, that Democrats want open borders. It is true that, in a federal shut down, employees whom the government considers “essential” still show up for work, and presumably federal border agents are “essential.” Of course, essential employees have to show up for work, but do not get paid until the shut down is over, which one might expect would reduce their enthusiasm for their work.

But the larger point is that the border is a fiction. There is no clear geographical line marking the entire border between Mexico and the United States. The current border is largely a function of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the War with Mexico in 1848, and maintained since by the operation of the federal government.

In functional terms, it is not as glaring a contradiction as it appears on its face, but any thinking person should be able to see that proposing to keep the border tightly shut by shutting down the federal government is titanically stupid.

He’s too dumb to realize it, but Trump is the one who is going to open the border, and he won’t even realize he has done it.

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Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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