Republicans would have loved to win the House, but unfortunately, they did not deserve it, as they lost at least 26 seats and more like 30 or so. After failing to solve our countries immigration problem time and time again, it should not be surprising that voters were not enthused to head to the polls on Tuesday. Now with a Democratic House ready to take power in 2019, the lame duck is now perhaps the last chance to get the wall built and if Republicans want a chance in 2020 this must be their focus.
President Donald Trump requested $25 billion to fund a defensive wall along the U.S. Southern border. In his first two years in office, with a Republican majority in Congress, only $1.6 billion has been allocated to fund this wall. While Trump has optimistically called this a “down payment” with full funding coming in the near future, that funding has yet to materialize — and the Republican voters knew it.
The truth is, House Republicans had ample opportunity to prove to the American people that building the wall is not just a rallying cry, but an actual policy objective.
Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the 2017 omnibus spending bill.
Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the September 2017 continuing resolution spending bill.
Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fully fund the wall during the 2018 omnibus spending bill.
Or Republicans could have leveraged their majority to fund the wall during the most recent continuing resolution “cromnibus” spending bill.
But they failed to do so. Instead, leaving our border exposed as a caravan of illegal immigrants march toward it days before the midterm elections. GOP voters had some reason to be unhappy, or at least less of a reason to be enthusiastic at the House level. It was a signature legislative promise.
Pew Research from November 2018 shows that immigration remains a very important issue to voters, just like it was in 2016. 71 percent of Republicans considered immigration the most important issue to their vote. So it is no surprise that a lack of action on the wall triggered a lack of action in the voting booth.
As Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning notes, “This is a failure of House leadership to enact the Trump agenda. This is the consequence of failing to keep the President’s promise to build the wall. When the House Republican leadership decided they wanted to spend almost the whole of 2018 at home rather than working in D.C. they should not have been surprised that voters sent them home permanently. The rejection of House Republican leadership now demands a new, more conservative leadership be elected.”
The immigration problem in the US will only get worse with a Democratic House, meaning in 2020 it will be just as large of a campaign issue. Republicans must use the lame duck to push reform in order to give voters another reason to vote red in 2020 and retain the presidency — unless Republicans want to take their chances making a deal with a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) introduced a bill in October to fully fund Trump’s wall. At the time, many assumed it was just a bill to show voters that Republicans are still willing to keep their promises, now it is their best chance of getting funding.
The Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act would call for $23.5 billion in border wall funding which would be split between the physical barrier and technology, operations, and other infrastructure costs related to border security.
McCarthy has said in a statement, “For decades, America’s inability to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration has encouraged millions to undertake a dangerous journey to come here in violation of our laws and created huge loopholes in the legal channels we use to welcome immigrants to our country.”
Had this bill and that rhetoric been around in 2017, Republicans might have kept their majority. But since it wasn’t, and now Republicans must use the lame duck to secure our border once and for all. While it won’t not save them in this election, it could help reclaim the House in 2020.
Natalia Castro is the multimedia manager at Americans for Limited Government.