There’s an old saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result. Make of that what you will, but it comes to mind as reports emerge that Donald Trump is yet again planning to ask Congress for billions of dollars for his border wall, something that has not worked out for him in his previous efforts. The new request will reportedly be for $8.6 billion in Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, which begins on October 1 of this year, potentially setting up another budget impasse at that point, just like the one that happened last year into early this year, when Trump refused to sign funding bills that did not include his demands for border wall funding, leading to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Reports of this expected $8.6 billion border wall funding request from Trump first came from Reuters today, and then were confirmed by both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Key Democrats have already put Trump on notice that his new demand for wall funding is not going to be successful. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a joint statement in which they indicated that they hoped Trump had learned his lesson from the debacle Trump caused with his shutdown of the government. This joint statement read, in part, according to The Hill, “President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.” Yet Trump’s new request shows that he has not, it seems, learned his lesson. According to The Hill:
President Trump reportedly intends to request $8.6 billion for his long-promised wall along the border with Mexico when he submits his 2020 congressional budget on Monday, likely igniting another funding standoff with Congress. Reuters reported early Sunday that the president will submit his request to Congress based on a 2017 plan crafted by Customs and Border Protection that called for 722 miles of barriers to be built or replaced along the U.S.-Mexico border. The funding for the wall would pull $5 billion from the Department of Homeland Security budget and $3.6 billion from the military construction budget at the Pentagon, according to the news service…The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times later confirmed Trump’s planned budget request…Congress must approve funding for fiscal 2020 by Oct. 1, or funding could lapse and the government could shut down.
Pelosi and Schumer’s statement commented on the lack of success Trump has had so far in getting the funding he wanted for his wall from Congress. Even when both houses of Congress held Republican majorities, Trump was unsuccessful. Then when the House returned to a Democratic majority, lowering Trump’s chances further, Trump still stubbornly refused to recognize those lowered chances, which led to the government shutdown, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks during its duration. Trump’s attempt to hold government funding hostage over his border wall funding demands was of course unsuccessful, so Trump has now resorted to declaring a national emergency in order to go around Congress to redirect funding intended for other purposes to his wall. That national emergency declaration has already been met by several lawsuits to stop it and the House has passed a resolution of disapproval to stop the declaration, with the Senate expected to do the same in the short term. Trump has, however, indicated that he will veto such a measure from Congress, the first veto of his presidency, and neither house appears to have enough votes (a supermajority) that would be necessary to override the veto. So it is likely the lawsuits that have the best chance of stopping Trump from redirecting funds, some would say misdirecting funds, in order to pay for his folly of a border wall.