A lot of ideas were batted around congress in the waning minutes of Friday night, as the government teetered on the edge of a shutdown.
One of those things? Funding for Donald Trump’s infamous border wall.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Chuck Schumer revealed that in a 90-minute meeting with Trump on Friday in the Oval Office — which was solely between Schumer, Trump, and their respective chief of staffs — he put funding for the border wall on the table as part of negotiations.
“During the meeting, in exchange for strong [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] protections, I reluctantly put the border wall on the table for the discussion. Even that was not enough to entice the president to finish the deal,” Schumer said from the Senate floor, after the vote to pass legislation that would have avoided a shutdown by temporarily funding the government for four weeks failed.
Reports indicate that not only did Schumer float discussions about the wall, he offered to support defense spending funding requested by the White House as well.
Schumer reportedly left the meeting optimistic about getting a deal after what he called a “lengthy and substantive discussion.”
“In my heart, I thought we might have a deal tonight. That was how far we had come. That’s how positive our discussion felt. We had a good meeting,” he said.
It’s understandable why Schumer thought that. On Thursday, Trump tweeted that “If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!”
We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
The wall, which Mexico insists it will not pay for, has been a contentious political issue since it became a rallying cry for Trump and his supporters at campaign rallies as early as 2015. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration will seek to spend $18 billion taxpayer dollars on just half of the wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump’s stance on what exactly would constitute a wall has shifted dramatically over time.
The fact that Schumer was willing to bend so much on funding for the wall is a sign of how much negotiating Democrats were willing to do, contrary to the insistence by Trump and most Republicans that the blame for the shutdown rests entirely on the shoulders of Schumer and the Democratic party.
But, of course, the Republicans control every legislative branch of the federal government, and six Senate Republicans voted against the funding bill that was on the table Friday night.
So, Schumer is pushing back against the #SchumerShutdown narrative, and placing the blame directly on the president’s shoulders.
“The blame should crash entirely on President Trump’s shoulders,” Schumer said. “This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one who deserves the blame … more than President Trump.”