- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is facing a backlash from progressive Democrats after offering $US1.6 billion in border security funding in the spending bill.
- Progressive Democrats immediately attacked Schumer over his offer, which was initially misinterpreted by the press, arguing that he’s too quick to acquiesce to Republican requests.
- “We didn’t build a blue wave so that they could build a wall,” one critic tweeted.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is facing a backlash from progressive Democrats after offering $US1.6 billion in border security funding as part of a deal with President Donald Trump and the GOP on a government spending bill.
Schumer insisted on Tuesday that the money would not go towards the construction of a border wall or an expansion of detention facilities or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, but instead towards fencing and other security measures. And he said his caucus won’t offer more than the $US1.6 billion, even as Trump says he would “totally be willing” to shut down the government beginning on Dec. 7 if he doesn’t get $US5 billion in funding for the US-Mexico border wall.
“Our position has been clear from the beginning: Ds & Rs have a months-old agreement in the Senate. $US1.6B for border security, NOT a concrete wall or increases in detention beds or ICE agents,” Schumer tweeted. “We should stick to this agreement. If POTUS interferes, he is responsible for a shutdown.”
Sixty votes are required to pass the spending bill through the Senate, so Republicans need Democratic buy-in.
A Tuesday tweet from a CNN reporter characterising the $US1.6 billion as wall, rather than border security, funding triggered a wave backlash against Schumer from progressive Democrats.
“The correct amount of funding for the wall is $US0.00,” New Yorker writer Osita Nwanevu tweeted.
After Schumer and CNN clarified that the money will not be allocated to a concrete wall, some critics maintained that Trump could claim any funding, including to repair damaged border fencing, as a victory for the wall and the GOP.
“The fencing vs wall distinction is an important one for those who think the meaningful questions here are ones of civil engineering,” Nwanevu tweetedWednesday, adding that Democrats should be wary of how Republicans sell the deal to the public.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes amended his initial criticism of the move, but argued that the “fairly standard” border funding is of “debatable merit.”
Others argued that it makes little sense for the party to compromise on immigration when Trump’s strategy of ginning up his base by fearmongering over the so-called border crisis was apparently unsuccessful in the midterms.
“Schumer’s problem is he is forever trapped in the mindset of a circa 2002 Democrat, where nothing the party believes in is supposedly popular and everything has to be offered on Republican terms,” Oliver Willis, a liberal blogger and Democratic activist,tweetedWednesday morning. “Of course it wasn’t even true then. But Schumer hasn’t learned and is the leader.”
Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the liberal organising group Indivisible, called the move “sleepwalking.”
This comes as Schumer’s counterpart in Congress’ lower chamber, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is facing pressure from a group of lawmakers who want fresh leadership in the body. Some Pelosi allies have argued that Schumer has received relatively little pushback from the left-wing of the party as compared to Pelosi – a discrepancy some attribute to a sexist fixation on Pelosi.