You know things are getting really desperate for congressional Republicans when they start taking pointers from Donald Trump on the way to win the shutdown battle. We’ve reached that place. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats Monday of adding a ‘poison pill’ late in negotiations regarding a cap on detention beds that threatens to torpedo the talks. Only it’s an all-out lie—one that Trump first floated Monday, calling the cap “a brand new demand.”
The provision centers around capping the number of detention beds provided for undocumented immigrants detained inside the United States at 16,500. Currently, about 48,000 people are in ICE detention, but about 20,000 of them were detained inside the U.S. (i.e. not border crossers). Democrats hope that keeping the number on the lower end will force ICE to focus on detaining violent offenders vs. nonviolent offenders, since the agency wouldn’t have an unlimited number of beds to fill.
Trump and Republicans don’t agree with that goal, but suggesting it was added in at the last second is a complete and utter lie. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes:
The call for a 16,500 cap on detention beds was in the original Democratic offer made in these talks over 10 days ago. That Jan. 31st offer explicitly includes a provision that “statutorily limits” the daily population of people detained from the interior at 16,500 by the end of the next fiscal year, phasing it in over time.
It’s not “brand new” if you actually read, which we know is a stretch for Trump. But apparently McConnell is following in the footsteps of Dear Leader on that one, too.
What appears to have happened here is that negotiators are coalescing on a dollar amount for building new border barriers in certain locations that’s closer to between $1.3 billion and $2 billion—far short of the $5.7 billion Trump has repeatedly demanded.
Trump clearly hit the roof when he found that out and then reversed engineered a way to make it all the Democrats’ fault. Now McConnell is piling on that lie rather than finding a way out of the breakdown in negotiations because that’s what true leadership amounts to for the GOP: lying to cover for your own incompetence rather than finding a way to succeed.
Negotiations continued Monday, but GOP leadership is already itching to point fingers.