Cracks are appearing in the Democratic wall of opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed border barrier.
While party leaders attempt to maintain the hard line that precipitated the partial government shutdown, restive rank-and-file House members are chafing at top-down control.
Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, along with 30 other members, urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make a deal with Trump.
“He’s not talking about a wall from sea to shining sea,” Luria wrote in a letter to Pelosi. “We are talking about physical barriers as recommended by experts.”
Other Democrats are speaking out, too. California Rep. Katie Hill, Washington Rep. Adam Smith and Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos have all conceded that fencing in certain areas is something they are not reflexively opposed to.
By one Republican count, 60 House Democrats have indicated that they support some type of barrier, wall or fence at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the Senate, New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan said, “We all pledged to work in good faith to find common ground on border security. I think that really starts with making sure we’re listening to the experts on the front lines on this, and that may include strategic fencing in certain places.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., seconded that motion, saying, “Where folks say we need additional barrier protections, I’m all for it.”
These comments leave wiggle room for toxic tradeoffs like legalization of illegal aliens and various “paths to citizenship.” And, as always, there are some wobbly Republicans, too.
But outright opposition to the wall is crumbling as Border Patrol officers point to an ongoing “crisis” along the southern border and new polling in swing districts indicates steady support for a barrier. A Monmouth University survey this week showed nearly 90 percent of respondents oppose any type of amnesty-for-wall deal.
Pelosi, of San Francisco, and other Democratic leaders ensconced in safely blue enclaves may think they can blow off border security without political consequence. Democrats from competitive districts and swing states don’t have that luxury. Neither do the American people.
As Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., put it: “I think the one problem with my party is that we skip over border security, and you can’t.”
With less than a three-week window for negotiations before another shutdown deadline, it’s encouraging that some Democrats are coming off the fence to support a wall. May many more make the leap, and mean it.