Poison pills in the border talks

When winning at all costs becomes the primary objective of politicians, the American people suffer. Important initiatives are not undertaken. Bad things can happen.

During much of the so-called “government shutdown,” it appeared that both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were focused on complete victory over each other, rather than achievable policy.

Trump maintained he had to have $5.7 billion to construct new barriers against illegal immigration across our southern border. Pelosi insisted House Democrats would agree to no more than $1.

You can see the problem or, rather, 5,699,999,999 of them.

Fortunately, the president took the first step toward compromise. He agreed to measures that would provide the money needed to reopen agencies idled during the shutdown. He agreed to a three-week period during which Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with White House representatives, could negotiate a solution to the border barrier stalemate.

What Trump plans to do if a satisfactory agreement is not reached by this Friday, the end of the three weeks, is unclear.

Lawmakers of both parties seemed to be making progress, however. A compromise deal on funding may include $1.6 billion. That is far short of Trump’s goal, but it symbolizes recognition by at least some Democrats that barriers are not as “immoral” as Pelosi, D-Calif., had earlier insisted.

The good news is that reports from Washington indicate Trump may be willing to go along with the $1.6 billion for now. Obviously, he would seek more money in the future.

On Sunday, however, there were reports negotiations among lawmakers are breaking down over ancillary matters.

One is critically important. Democrats want to restrict the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to detaining no more than 16,500 illegal immigrants at any one time. it is an attempt to force the Trump administration to be more selective in who it takes into custody and deports.

That is, in a word, crazy. Telling ICE it cannot arrest and hold illegal immigrants who are threats to the public’s safety is, well, immoral.

It hints at a decision by Pelosi to torpedo any deal in which she cannot claim complete victory over Trump. If Pelosi’s forces continue to insert what in legislative terminology are referred to as “poison pills” in the negotiations, Trump will not be the big loser.

The American people will be — and they will know who to blame.