Continetti: Trump Wall Compromise Puts Democrats in 'Difficult Position'

Following Trump's DACA offer, pressure to end the shutdown may shift to Democrats.

January 22, 2019

Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said Monday that pressure to end the shutdown may be on Democrats.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been unable to find a way to fully fund the federal government since President Donald Trump clashed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) over a U.S.-Mexico border wall. The shutdown, affecting a number of major government agencies and employee paychecks, entered its 32nd day Tuesday.

During an appearance on EWTN's "News Nightly," Continetti noted that popular opinion, even among Trump voters, has largely blamed the president for the shutdown. Yet he predicted that recent developments might shift that blame towards Democrats. "To date, the public seems to have blamed the president more for the shutdown, as well as some blame for the congressional Democrats," Continetti said. "But now that President Trump has come out with an affirmative offer and to say 'Okay, I will compromise: I want money for the wall but I'm also willing to legalize the 'Dreamers' who were brought here as children,' that kind of puts the democrats in a difficult position."

Following reports that Trump might be offering citizenship to some of the millions residing unlawfully in the United States, Trump clarified Sunday that he was prepared to immediately authorize a "3 year extension of DACA" in exchange for a wall and would consider offering amnesty as part of a "much bigger deal."

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was a 2012 executive order signed by President Barack Obama shielding illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and were otherwise law-abiding. Trump, who opposes the order, has been willing to preserve it to advance his legislative priorities.

After Trump's move to compromise, the public may now expect movement from Democrats towards Trump's position. Continetti pointed to the lack of disavowal from key Democrats that usually follows Trump's statements. This time, "despite the Democratic leadership dismissing Trump's offer out of hand, if you look at, say, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, or even some of the House freshmen who were elected last year, they want to solve problems," he said.

Manchin, unlike Pelosi, expressed indecision following Trump's recent DACA offer. Manchin said he was "hopeful" the offer would prompt Democrats and Republicans to come to terms to reopen the government.

Continetti suggested the move would weaken Pelosi's hand, as part of her camp moved towards Trump's position. "Trump is splitting" some Democrats with his offers, Continetti said. That could signal a larger "split between some of the Democratic rank and file and the Democratic leadership."

Though a modified deal would prompt trouble for Democrats, Continetti reasoned Republicans would have no choice but to vote for it, given Republican support for the Obama-era program. "The fact is that some type of earned legalization for the 'Dreamers,' maybe even that doesn't result in citizenship, but just a legal permanent residency in the United States, is very popular among people of both parties," he said. "So if you were able to tie that with border wall funding, I think that's a compromise a lot of Republicans and some Democrats would welcome."

Trump has proved adept at whipping Republican votes for formerly unpalatable bills, including for criminal justice reforms in 2018. Immigration might become another case of the party following its president despite past positions. "It's possible that one or two might vote against this compromise," Continetti said, but "it'd be very hard for the bulk of Republicans to vote against it."

Continetti also praised the March for Life, the annual event supporting protections for the unborn. He noted that the mainstream media refused to cover the march on par with a similar left-wing program. "There is bias, and it's massive. The mainstream media ignores the pro-life cause and devotes very little attention to it," he said.

The 46th annual March for Life took place Friday, drawing tens of thousands from around the country. According to one study, news channels dedicated almost 15 minutes of prominent coverage to Saturday's Women's March, but less than one minute to the March for Life.

Despite the media blackout surrounding the event, Continetti noted that he found the participation of young, pro-life Americans inspiring. In addition to the thousands of young Americans who walked in the Washington cold Friday, event speakers included lawmakers, Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Ally Cavazos, president of Princeton University's pro-life group, among others.

"The one thing you always see from the March for Life that's always inspiring is the young people that attend. And that's, I think, a sign of hope," Continetti said.