The President has the Democrats in a checkmate. Since he met with Schumer and Pelosi in the Oval Office, he's had them in a box from which they can't escape. The President made it clear on a national stage that he wants funding for the wall, or there would be a shutdown. We're a few weeks in and nobody cares.
When you negotiate from a position of strength, you make yourself seem unmovable and willing to walk. The President several times has doubled down on holding firm:
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and other lawmakers warned Wednesday that the partial government shutdown could last a "long time" as a White House meeting ended with little progress on a deal over Trump's proposed border wall.
The President holds the leverage. He has the support of normal Americans who want border security. The rallies last year established our support for the President's border wall position. At each rally the "build the wall" chant erupted at some point. The President is in no political danger with his base. The President can withstand a shutdown for a long, long time and will only increase his political capital.
The pressure of the shutdown has yet to begin. Once the squealing from the government employees starts, that's when we're in a shutdown. Even better, the shutdown affects the SNAP program, where we can make a safe assumption that a majority of beneficiaries are Democrats.
The partialglided into its third week Saturday with no end in sight. If the government is not reopened before February, millions of Americans who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- the nation's food stamp program — could have their assistance disrupted.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees SNAP at the federal level, is one of the agencies unfunded during the partial government shutdown. Although SNAP is automatically renewed, it has not been allocated funding from Congress beyond January. Congress has appropriated $3 billion in emergency funds for SNAP distribution, but that would not cover all of February's obligations.
Now for the squeeze. Those of us who have been following the President closely over the past year knew he wanted to use the Army Corps of Engineers to build the wall. He has a prime time speech tomorrow regarding the wall, and the expectation is he'll declare a national emergency to let the military build the wall. This means, with or without the Democrats, the wall will be built.
Congressman Adam Smith, the new Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, just stated, “Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It’s been done a number of times.” No doubt, but let’s get our deal done in Congress!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2019
Look at this situation from the perspective of the Democrats. The non-essential government workers will be screaming like stuck pigs, along with beneficiaries of other unfunded programs like SNAP. These people care more about getting paid than holding out to kill the wall. If the Democrats don't cave, they will only enrage this base of moochers because the wall will be under construction, so why continue to hold out? We all know the President will flaunt this daily, applying more political pressure on the Democrats until they crack. President Trump wins and the Democrats lose.
The other scenario is the Democrats are forced to cave and agree to the $5 billion. However, it is quite plausible the President will up the ante. When they come crawling to the President, begging to end the shutdown, why not get more while they're desperate? President Trump wins and the Democrats lose.
In either scenario, the Democrats will cave. The Democrat base knows the President will not cave, therefore the pressure will be on Schumer. Forcing the Democrats to cave will give the President a major win on the national stage and add to his already overflowing stock of political capital.
Good luck, Chuck!