Republicans Soften Before Midterms

If there is one lesson Republicans should have taken away from the 2016 election, it is that a yuge chunk of their base is fed up with business as usual in Washington. They are fed up with politicians who lay down and refuse to fight. If the Blue Wave materializes and swamps the Congress, it will be in part because Republicans declined to build a sea wall to prevent it.

On a number of issues ― food stamps, a border wall, even Obamacare ― Republicans appear to be softening their hardline stances, if only for the moment before voters go to the polls.

Take the border wall, for instance. Congressional Republicans have consistently said it’s a priority of theirs to secure money for this cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s agenda. But a year and a half into Trump’s presidency, the wall has not materialized. Congress, like Mexico, does not seem willing to pay for it.

While Republicans have said all year that it’s important to get wall funding in the next round of appropriations, Democrats have made it clear they’re unwilling to go along with that sort of spending bill. So, rather than potentially shut down the government over a wall, Republicans are passing as many government funding bills as possible and leaving the wall for another day.

“Not fighting for the wall becomes a tactical question more than folding,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told HuffPost on Wednesday. “You know, when’s the best time to take that fight?”

It’s not that Republicans are giving up on the wall ― they’re not. They just recognize that a messy spending fight, over a wall, several weeks before an already gloomy midterm election is not the best closing argument for keeping Republicans in control of the House and Senate.