Tom Cole is right about the standoff over border security.
“Shutting down the government over a border wall is not fair,” he said. “There is a way to do this where both sides can say, ‘We won.’” Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He was one of eight members of his party who voted with the Democrats this week on a measure aimed at ending the government shutdown.
“I’d rather make a deal than continue to fight,” he said Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
How would he do that?
“Well, I think you can either look at this as a fight to be won … or a problem to solve,” he said. “To solve this problem, in my view, you’ve gotta make it a little bit bigger than it is right now, so there’s not obvious winners and losers.”
He suggested adding DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, to the discussion about border security. He also suggested the debt ceiling could be part of the compromise, and he mentioned an approaching deadline to avoid the so-called sequestration cuts that he said both sides want to avoid.
“So make it bigger, then deal with multiple issues that you’re going to have to deal with anyway,” he said.
The goal, he said, should be to give both sides a chance for victory.
“The president gets something on border security,” he said.
“There’s a bipartisan consensus for DACA reform. We all know that we don’t want to go through sequester and have unnecessary and frankly devastating cuts, and then if you don’t deal with the debt ceiling, you’re gonna have an economic crisis.”
President Donald J. Trump has suggested that he might address the issue by declaring a state of emergency, but Cole gives that idea a thumbs down.
“What we’re doing if we do that,” he said, “is basically punting the responsibility of Congress and the president into the courts, and saying, ‘We can’t solve this, so you solve it.’ That’s just … I don’t think that’s the best way forward.”
Cole called the stalemate “a pretty small dispute with big consequences.”
“The president actually offered to negotiate, … “ he said. “He dropped from five billion to two-and-a-half. Couldn’t get any movement out of the Democrats.”
In the context of a $4 trillion budget, he said, $2.5 billion isn’t much.
“This is much more about political theater and symbolism than is it about consequential policy issues,” Cole said. “I think you’d be better off putting real issues on the table that people want to solve and that they can take some credit for solving.”
Asked whether he’d insist on a wall as part of any compromise, Cole said the two sides shouldn’t get caught up in semantics.
“What we’re really talking about is enhanced border security, not a wall,” he said.
That’s not to say the compromise couldn’t include money for some sort of barrier.
“Frankly, the Department of Homeland Security would tell you in certain places, physical barriers make sense,” he said. “Not everywhere, but certainly in many places it does.”
Cole suggested pursuing things the experts at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended. In some places, those might involve physical barriers. In others, high-tech security measures might be more effective.
The key, he said, is to broaden the negotiations to give everyone something to feel good about.
“Right now, again, this is a winners and losers issue,” he said, “and that’s not gonna work out.”
The man makes a lot of sense. Perhaps his colleagues in Congress should pay attention.