Still No Wall and Trump Takes the Fall – Rolling Stone
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Still No Wall and Trump Takes the Fall

The president is rapidly losing support for his plan to keep the government closed until a border wall is funded

nancy pelosi donald trump

Jose Luis Magana/AP/REX/Shutterstock, Susan Walsh/AP/REX/Shutterstock

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wins this round.

After a week of sending letters back and forth debating whether the State of the Union address will be delivered as planned while the government remains shut down, the president tweeted on Wednesday that he will respect Pelosi’s “prerogative” to decline to open the House Chamber for the annual event. “I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over,” wrote the president.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump sent a letter to Pelosi informing her that despite her previous letter uninviting him from delivering the address, he planned on showing up to the House Chamber to deliver it anyway. “I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives,” Trump wrote. “It would be very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule and very importantly, on location!”

Hours later, Pelosi responded with yet another letter, this one clarifying that the House would not consider a concurrent resolution that would allow the president to deliver the address in the House Chamber. “I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened,” she wrote.

When reporters informed Trump of Pelosi’s decision, the president pursed his lips, nodded his head and said, “I’m not surprised.” He went on to rail against how the Democrats “have become radicalized” while touting the need for border security. “It really is a shame,” Trump said.

Considering Trump built his entire political persona on refusing to back down, apologize or concede in any way, his decision to cave to his most prominent Democratic opponent was not handled well by his base.

When and where Trump delivers the State of the Union has no bearing on the shutdown, but the concession marks a political victory for Pelosi in a fight in which she already has plenty of leverage. Trump’s poll numbers have been plummeting since the shutdown began on December 21st, with more and more Americans attributing blame to the president. An AP-NORC poll released Wednesday found that 60 percent of Americans say Trump “bears a great deal of responsibility” for the shutdown, while only 31 percent say the same for congressional Democrats. The poll put Trump’s overall approval rating at 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. A separate poll conducted by CBS found that 70 percent of Americans don’t believe the issue of a border wall is worth a government shutdown.

Most lawmakers don’t either, and a growing number of Republicans are reportedly trying to figure out how to end the shutdown without drawing the wrath of the president. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have all expressed some measure of support for a bill to re-open the government that does not include immediate funding for the wall. On Wednesday night, the Denver Post reported that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) will side with Democrats on Thursday when the Senate votes on a continuing resolution that would fund the government until February 8th but not include money for a border wall.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that Republicans are unified in their effort to the build a border wall, and that it’s the Democrats who are breaking apart on the issue. “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A.,” he tweeted Thursday morning. “BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!”

Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers are not being paid, and the critical government institutions they administer are falling into disrepair.

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