AOC Is Right: Democrats Can’t Cave In on the Border Bill

Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Democrats are split over a bill to fund $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian aid for the southwest border:

With a House vote on the package planned for Tuesday, some Democrats are revolting over the measure, fearing that the aid will be used to carry out Mr. Trump’s aggressive tactics, including deportation raids that he has promised will begin within two weeks….In separate conference calls on Sunday, more than 30 members of the Progressive Caucus and more than 15 members of the Hispanic Caucus aired their concerns, many of them arguing that the legislation did not set high enough standards for migrant shelters or do enough to block money from going toward enforcement.

“We all want to address the problems at the border, but we don’t know that there are enough sticks in this bill to make sure that the Trump administration actually spends the money the way they’re supposed to,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington and the co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus. “He’s creating these crises and then trying to point a finger at Democrats to give him more money, which he then uses for his own purposes.”

Under normal circumstances, it might be best to pass the bill quickly and hope for the best. But Donald Trump has made it clear that he considers congressional appropriations to be mere suggestions, giving him the authority to “reprogram” the money any way he chooses. It’s hardly surprising that Democrats don’t trust him after watching him rip up Pentagon funding to build his wall.

On this one, I’m with AOC. Her politics aren’t entirely mine, but her instinctive understanding of how to deal with people like Trump is unrivaled. “I will not fund another dime to allow ICE to continue its manipulative tactics,” she said earlier this evening, and I agree. Democrats should put reasonable restrictions into the legislative language and then dare Trump to veto it. The hostage-taking approach to politics won’t stop until it’s crystal clear that it will never, ever work.

The appalling part of this, of course, is that it requires us to grit our teeth and allow Republicans to continue their usual callous treatment of the weak unless they agree to spend the money the way it’s supposed to be spent. But there’s no choice. McConnell and Trump are counting on bleeding-heart liberals to be patsies. They have to learn that we won’t be.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.