President Trump on Tuesday night used his border wall speech to make the case that the flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico was such an overwhelming problem that it necessitates the building of a border wall. But what his speech didn’t answer is: Why now?
We heard a lot tonight about illegal immigrants committing crimes and about the necessity of locking down the border. But that’s a case that he’s basically been making since he launched his presidential campaign three and a half years ago.
He’s been president for nearly two years, and up until last week, Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress. At any point during that two years, Republicans could have passed a bill to fund the border wall, and he could have gotten at least $5.6 billion.
Republicans were ready to use the reconciliation process, allowing the Senate to pass legislation with a simple majority, to repeal and replace Obamacare. They successfully used the procedure to pass a massive tax cut. They certainly could have found a way to use it to put some money into building a border wall had Trump actually fought for it earlier in his administration.
In 2017, Trump had just won the presidency and building a wall was a significant part of his platform. At the time, he had significant political capital among Republicans, who would have been reticent to defy him on such a central issue.
Instead, he waited until now to make a firm stand, at a time when his party just lost control of the House and he has zero leverage over Democrats, whose base expects maximum resistance.
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