Some have called it the “Cheeseburger Summit.” With just hours remaining before Friday night’s government-shutdown deadline, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met privately with Donald Trump at the White House in the hopes of working out some kind of agreement. After the meeting, the Democratic leader seemed optimistic that he and the president had come up with a “framework.”
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t easy, and it included a tradeoff that most Democrats reject: Schumer was willing to accept increased funding for a border wall in exchange for DACA protections for Dreamers.
As we now know, the deal ultimately fell apart. Though Schumer was on board, he received a call on Friday from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who told the senator the blueprint he sketched out with Trump was simply not far enough to the right for Republicans.
With this in mind, the Democratic leader who put wall funding on the table is now taking it off the table. Politico reports:
The Senate minority leader, through an aide, informed the White House on Monday that he was retracting the offer he made last week to give Trump well north of the $1.6 billion in wall funding Trump had asked for this year, according to two Democrats. And now they say Trump will simply not get a better deal than that on his signature campaign promise.
Schumer “took it off,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “He called the White House yesterday and said it’s over.”
To clarify, Schumer’s office told NBC News that he told the White House the wall offer is off the table on Sunday – the day before the shutdown ended – not Monday.
A Democratic aide told Politico, meanwhile, that Trump’s handling of the negotiations means the president has now “missed an opportunity to get the wall.”
This got me thinking about something Sarah Binder, a GW political scientist, explained a few years ago, “[M]ost integrative solutions are conditional on completion of the entire deal. As the common mantra goes, ‘Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.’”
In any meaningful negotiation, participants routinely worry about putting major concessions on the table, fearing that once they’ve signaled a willingness to give up something of great importance, they’ll never be able to walk it back.
But once everyone understands that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, it creates an environment in which negotiators are willing to take risky positions in order to see what they can get. In this case, Schumer put increased wall funding on the table, hoped to work toward a deal, and found that the White House wasn’t ready to compromise.
And so, nothing was agreed to.
If Trump thinks he’ll be able to get Democrats to reconsider wall funding in future talks, I have a hunch the president is going to be disappointed.