Trump: Democrats only get 21 days to make a deal on border wall

It didn’t take long for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to proclaim victory after President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he would end the partial government shutdown and pay federal workers. She praised Democrats for sticking to their guns and scolded the president for taking “so long to come to an obvious conclusion.”

However, President Trump insists he will have the final word on the wall, and Pelosi may have lost a crucial opportunity make a deal with the Republican administration. After signing a bill to keep the government open for three more weeks, Trump reminded Democratic leaders that they have only 21 days to make a deal regarding the wall or “it’s off to the races.”

Last chance

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed the president’s resolve less than an hour later, publishing a tweet of her own reminding Democrats of their chance to negotiate. “In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats,” Sanders tweeted. “The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing.”

For his part, the president dismissed critics from his own party who opposed the decision to reopen the government. Trump explained that the move “was in no way a concession,” and that he only acted to help “millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the [s]hutdown.”

Ultimately, Democrats were content to let the 800,000 furloughed government workers go without pay indefinitely, so long as they could deny Trump the satisfaction of following through with another campaign promise by building the wall. Led by Pelosi, House Democrats voted against Republican spending measures that would have paid federal workers during the shutdown.

Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-LA) attempt to pay the Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, was also blocked by Democrats last week. Despite their abject refusal to pay middle-income families employed by the federal government while negotiations proceeded, Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hypocritically attacked Trump for his “callous” treatment of federal workers and said he “belittled” their financial struggles.

“No one should ever underestimate the speaker, as Donald Trump has learned,” Schumer said, crediting Pelosi for refusing to fund the wall.

All bets are off

Republicans were, in fact, guilty of underestimating Pelosi and congressional Democrats. No one expected Democrats to vote against paying government workers who were denied their second paycheck in a row on Friday.

Not surprisingly, they accomplished this ugly task without arousing any protests from the mainstream press or their constituents. Therefore, Trump felt compelled to reopen the government — even if only briefly — to do what his political opponents lacked the moral courage to do themselves.

In 20 days, if Democrats still refuse to fund the wall, Trump could declare a state of emergency and use Department of Defense funds to pay for the wall. The administration has already identified more than $7 billion that could be allocated toward the barrier’s construction, and the emergency order could actually expedite some tasks and procedures.

Just last week, Trump offered Democrats temporary deportation protections for approximately 700,000 young undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for the wall. The fate of these so-called Dreamers was important enough for Democrats to initiate a government shutdown of their own in January 2018. But they weren’t interested in addressing this deal when it was offered as an immigration quid pro quo.

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If Democrats still want to extract concessions from the White House, they should do so in the next three weeks. As Trump reminded them, “21 day goes very quickly.”

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