President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to present his plan for reopening the government. Trump said that his plan will “break the log jam” of the government shutdown and to “solve the crisis on the southern border.” But early Democratic reaction to Trump’s offer, which is similar to proposals he made earlier, shows that Trump’s offer will not get bipartisan support.
The speech was similar in many ways to the president’s remarks more than a week ago on the same topic. Trump characterized what is happening at the border as a “humanitarian and security crisis… that requires urgent action” and cited misconstrued, fear-mongering statistics about drugs coming across the border.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2019
Here is what Trump proposed:
- $800 million in humanitarian assistance
- $805 million for drug detection technology to secure ports of entry
- Funds to hire 2,750 new border agents and law enforcement professionals at the border
- 75 new immigrations judge teams to reduce backlog of 900,000 cases
- And, of course, $5.7 billion for “strategic deployment of physical barriers” aka “the wall”
- Three years of legislative relief for 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
- A three-year extension of relief for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders
But there is nothing new here. It’s a plan that the Democrats have already rejected. And Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying as much ahead of Trump’s speech, calling the president’s offer “a nonstarter.”
“Democrats were hopeful that [President Trump] was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of previously rejected initiatives,” Pelosi said.
Democrats were hopeful that @realDonaldTrump was finally willing to re-open government & proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of previously rejected initiatives. https://t.co/MFwebWSevG pic.twitter.com/yMTm4iP27h
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 19, 2019
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also issued a statement on the speech, saying that he intends to bring Trump’s proposal to the Senate floor in the hopes of it passing and moving to the Democratic-controlled House.
McConnell statement on Trump speech (remember McConnell had once promised he would not put up bills ending shutdown that did not have buy in from both Trump and Democratic leaders) pic.twitter.com/GfRHOq5cgC
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 19, 2019
What’s happening here is that Trump and McConnell are trying to shift the blame for the shutdown from the president and Republicans to Pelosi and the Democrats. If the White House is perceived as extending an olive branch, perhaps Americans will focus their anger instead on those who oppose the president’s wall. It’s a longshot, and unlikely to work, but when has that ever stopped Trump?