The bill Trump signed has "no-wall zones." He's fuming now because his aides didn't tell him.
Trump admitted defeat Friday when he signed a bill to fund the government that didn’t include the money he wanted for his border wall.
But Vice News reported Tuesday that Trump’s defeat was even more complete and humiliating than many realized: The bill he signed essentially designated “no-wall zones,” specific areas on the southern border where he is forbidden from using any of the funds Congress gave him to build a wall.
The legislation Trump signed includes just $1.37 billion for pedestrian fencing, not $5.7 billion to build a big wall like Trump wanted.
But the bill Trump signed specifically prohibits the government from using even those funds to build fencing in designated sections of Texas: the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the La Lomita Historical Park, the National Butterfly Center, and in specific regions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a big setback for Trump, who has been insisting since the early days of his presidential campaign that a wall has to span the entire southern border in order to be effective.
“I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall,” Trump told supporters in April 2015.
In March of 2016, Trump said “a thousand miles” of wall would need to be built to do the job right. And in January of this year, he insistedthat “between checkpoints,” where no walls are built, is where “tremendous problems” can occur.
“We got five protections that were so important,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said in describing the steps he took to make sure the legislation defended the land.
In some cases, action had been taken to begin construction in the five areas now protected by the spending bill. In 2017, the National Butterfly Center posted video of the first phase of wall construction, highlighting survey stakes and workers with chainsaws near the property.
Trump was forced to sign the legislation after losing badly in his political confrontation with Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, over shutting down the government. Millions of Americans sufferedthanks to his obstinance as federal workers went unpaid.
To avoid another public black eye for his already unpopular administration, Trump signed the bill and accepted provisions that handcuff him.
As a last resort, Trump is now trying to invoke a “national emergency,” so he can steal money from projects like building military homes to build his wall. There too he is facing massive opposition — and multiple lawsuits, one from at least 16 states and others from advocacy groups, with potentially more on the way.
Trump isn’t getting his wall. His shutdown to get the wall didn’t work. And now he has been forced to sign legislation specifically designating no-wall zones.
The only avenue he might have left is his dubious “emergency” declaration, which is also facing massive legal challenges on multiple fronts.
Trump just keeps on losing.
Published with permission of The American Independent. Attribution: Oliver Willis.