With the deadline for passing funding to prevent a government shutdown rapidly approaching, the Trump administration is backing down from its extraordinary and extortionary position that it will be happy to accept responsibility for depriving federal workers of their pay and shuttering government services during the Christmas holidays if it doesn’t get funding for the border wall that it promised would be paid for by Mexico.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated a retreat from the angry rhetoric Trump displayed in his meeting with Democratic Congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) last week — and continued daily on his Twitter feed — in a press briefing this morning.
Sanders told reporters that the administration had found alternate methods of obtaining the five billion dollars that the president has requested to begin building the wall that he’s falsely been claiming is already in progress.
“We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion,” Sanders told Fox News.
“We will work with Congress if they will make sure we get a bill passed that provides not just the funding for the wall, but there’s a piece of legislation that’s been pushed around that Democrats actually voted 26-5 out of committee that provides roughly $26 billion for border security including $1.6 billion for the wall,” she said. “That’s something that we would be able to support as a long as we can couple that with other funding resources.”
“At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border,” the press secretary concluded.
With Democrats soon to control the House of Representatives, Senator Schumer now says that the offer of $1.6 billion for the wall is off the table because of opposition in the House. That means that Trump would have to find the full $5 billion from other sources. Sanders indicated that the administration would look to divert money from other divisions of the executive branch that haven’t already depleted their budgets to pay for construction.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, the perpetual thorn in Sanders’ side, snarkily questioned the press secretary’s attempt to paint the funding for the wall as coming from anywhere but American taxpayers’ pockets in a devastating tweet.
Sanders said today the WH is not looking for the taxpayers to pay for the wall while at the same time said the WH is looking to other agencies to find wall funding. Is @presssec aware that agencies of the federal government are funded by taxpayers?
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 18, 2018
Acosta could also have easily pointed out the fact that Trump’s attempts to shift unspent money from various agencies — such as the $5 million that the Veterans Administration failed to spend from an allocation for a suicide prevention program for returned warriors — to fulfill its xenophobic agenda completely violates the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution that explicitly assigns budget appropriations power to Congress, not to the president to fulfill his own whims.
With contradictory claims and outright lies emanating from the White House every day, it’s no surprise that Jim Acosta is questioning the basic knowledge and competence of senior Trump staffers.
We know the administration is full of people willing to render the truth unrecognizable to achieve their authoritarian, nationalist goals. We just expected them to be better at creating at least semi-believable falsehoods than those that they have been able to conjure up.
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Original reporting by