Madame Speaker, we're waiting.
Over the weekend, President Trump did what he should have done four weeks ago and issued a televised announcement to offer a concession for his wall. In exchange for $5.7 billion in border security funding — mind you, the whole wall will likely cost five times that — the president is prepared to issue three years of legal protections for DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status holders.
Democrats can gripe at the length of the extension or the fact that it's temporary. But Trump's turn no doubt demonstrates a good faith effort to end the shutdown with a compromise and put nearly a million federal employees back to work with pay.
It's Nancy Pelosi's move now. She has the ability to secure safety for over a million Dreamers and TPS recipients throughout her guaranteed term as speaker of the House and Trump's guaranteed term as president. It's not permanent amnesty by any means, but it gives Dreamers and TPS holders, long in legal limbo, some stability for now to buy time as Congress debates long-term solutions on how to keep illegal immigrants out and what to do with the ones already here.
So far, Pelosi, D-Calif., won't budge. And Democrats in both chambers of Congress are following suit. Not even Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., seems willing to budge, following the party line of emphasizing the importance of immediately ending the shutdown, without compromise, and revisiting border talks later.
Trump's wall demands may seem petty, but the Democrats' outright refusal to even consider offering a couple billion — couch change in the multi-trillion dollar federal budget — is even more so. And Trump's willingness to offer Democrats one of their key campaign promises — protection for Dreamers — shows how seriously he's taking the shutdown. Angry tweets from Ann Coulter surely aren't boding well in the president's mind, but he knows that sooner or later the government must reopen.
All of this raises the question of why Democrats are refusing even to make a counteroffer. Why not ask for six years instead of three? Why not ask for the full, permanent protection of the Dream Act? Why not make a tangible demand of what is essentially a blank check to congressional Democrats from the Oval Office?
It's either one of two things, both equally terrible. The first is the Republican talking point, that Democrats are open-borders extremists. While it sounds conspiratorial on its face, Nancy Pelosi literally called a border wall "immoral" and Democrats seem to impugn the very notion of stronger border security itself. That doesn't bode well for their image as the reasonable voices in the the room. Then there's the more likely and more cynical option: that it's all kabuki theater to Democrats. They don't care about the federal employees or the Dreamers, they're just here to stick it to Trump.
Were Dreamers always pawns for the Democrats? Was former President Barack Obama's refusal to push the Dream Act when his party controlled both chambers of Congress intentional, as a means of keeping more people engaged in politics? Were Dreamers always meant to remain in legal limbo until Democrats win the next election?
Pelosi and her children better have answers, and fast. As long as they refuse to answer Trump with a real explanation for their refusal instead of petty posturing, these questions will enter the mainstream and the minds of voters.