On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation via voice vote to continue the government and avoid a shutdown, but they did not appropriate money for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Such a decision marks a retreat from the line in the sand drawn by President Donald Trump in an Oval Office meeting with Democrats last week, in which he demanded Congress provide at least $5 billion in wall funding.
Building the wall served as the hallmark campaign promise by Trump during his election, but efforts to begin real construction so far have ended only in retreat. Such was the case again yesterday when the Senate advanced its measure without funding. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where it is largely expected to pass later today.
Since the bill came out of the Senate, conservative members of the House have spent that time urging colleagues to secure and include funding for the wall before sending it to the president’s desk. Among them was Texas’ own U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R–01).
“Now is the time!” Gohmert said. “I know people want to go home. I want to go home, but this is our chance to protect America for our future. Let’s help the president keep our promise.”
Gohmert’s colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus made the rounds on television and spoke from the floor of the House late Wednesday night, trying to persuade lawmakers to take the time to negotiate before gaveling out for the end-of-year recess.
Gohmert, who addressed congressional colleagues from the House floor, said funding the construction of a wall would help to stop the flow of dangerous drugs like fentanyl across the border and dry up money fueling the activities of violent drug cartels in Mexico and South America. He also issued a warning to GOP leadership in Washington about the political consequences of failing to deliver on Republicans’ No. 1 campaign promise, which he said was instrumental in taking control of the White House and both chambers of Congress two years ago.
“I know it wasn’t popular, and people didn’t like me saying it, but I had to make [it] clear,” said Gohmert. “It was clear to me. If we don’t get money for a wall, then the people — the voters that put President Trump in the White House — will not come out in the same numbers and we will not likely remain in the majority.”
“If we drop the ball on the biggest campaign promise, we’re not going to have the majority in either house; we’re not going to have the White House,” he added.
Gohmert and the House Freedom Caucus aren’t alone in issuing such warnings. Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh echoed them as well earlier this week, stating that Trump and Republicans breaking their promise on building the wall would be a repeat of George H. W. Bush’s famous “Read my lips, no new taxes” betrayal. History suggests such a move would be costly, alienating members of the president’s base before a 2020 election, which is already underway.
With the arrival of prospective Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — who has said the incoming Democrat-controlled House will be entirely opposed to increased border security measures — now just weeks away, this may be the final chance for Republicans to keep their word on the wall.
President Trump has called for a meeting with members of the Freedom Caucus and Republican House leaders today before they are expected to vote on the bill later this afternoon.
“Now we need Americans to help remind our Republican leaders to help our president build the wall like we said,” Gohmert implored.