White House 'confident' of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall – Washington Post

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The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall.

Despite one-party control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the brinkmanship that came to define spending battles in the Obama years has tumbled into the Trump era, as have the factional divisions over strategy and priorities that have gripped the GOP for a decade.

But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to fund the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.

“The president is working hard to keep the government open,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Monday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached by Friday, but he pointedly said he could not “guarantee” that a government closure would be averted.

At issue is whether the spending measure will explicitly allocate funds toward building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a campaign promise that was a rallying cry for Trump’s base and one on which he is eager to demonstrate progress by Saturday, his 100th day in office.

Democrats, meanwhile, gave the White House an opening, saying they would agree to some new money for border security — so long as it did not go toward the creation of a wall, something House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called “immoral.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the idea of a wall while suggesting that a combination of smart technology and law enforcement, including the use of drones, would be “a much more effective way to secure the border” without hitting an impasse in Congress.

Republicans were working to define Trump’s campaign promise down, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it.

“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who challenged Trump in the 2016 primaries. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership, said that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric. “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” he said.

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to construct.

At the White House, Spicer portrayed Trump’s position not as a demand but rather as one of two priorities — the other being additional military funding — in evolving negotiations with Congress. He left open the possibility that the president could agree to funding for border activities generally, such as additional fencing or drones.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing,” Spicer said.

Should lawmakers fail to find consensus by Friday, there are plans ready to quickly pass through the House and Senate what is referred to as a “short-term C.R.,” a continuing resolution to keep the government open until discussions are finalized.

The Senate returned Monday night and the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess, leaving only three days this week when both chambers will be in session.

The more conciliatory language emanating from the White House did not stop Trump from continuing to hammer away on Twitter at what he claims is an urgent need for the wall. In a pair of posts, Trump sought to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass funding for wall construction.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others!),” he wrote in a morning post.

In another message several hours later, Trump wrote that if “the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall.”

Still, Trump has left himself wiggle room to agree to sign a government funding bill that does not include money for the wall.

“My base understands the wall is going to get built, whether I have it funded here or if I get it funded shortly thereafter,” Trump said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “That wall’s getting built, okay? One hundred percent.”

Asked if he would sign a bill without wall funding, Trump told the news service, “I just don’t know yet.”

The debate over wall funding is just one of several moving pieces congressional leaders are trying to address this week to avoid a partial government shutdown. In 2015, President Barack Obama made a deal with congressional lawmakers to fund government operations through April 28, 2017. If a new agreement isn’t reached by then, many federal employees will stop being paid, national parks will close, and a number of other changes will kick in — as in 2013, the last time the government shut down.

Since new rules about spending bills went into place after Jimmy Carter’s administration, a government shutdown has never occurred when a single political party has controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Paramount for many Republican lawmakers is funding the government, as opposed to the wall specifically. If the government shuts down, they fear, voters could blame the GOP for failing to govern, and the party could suffer the consequences in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I’d like to make it as clean as we can and fund the government,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). “I wouldn’t mind funding the wall, but it’s a question of what we can do. The question is, what’s doable and will we make the deadline?”

Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said that an effective “wall” along the border had been “authorized years and years and years ago,” in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

“It’s been partially built and partially funded. He wants to fund the rest of it and build it — perfectly legitimate debate that should take place on that,” Risch said.

Asked if that debate could happen in three days, Risch chuckled. “Things get done quickly around here when they want it to get done,” he said.

Even when Republicans controlled the House during the Obama administration, they could rarely pass spending bills without Democratic support. That is because a number of the House’s most conservative members often refused to support such bills, making a bipartisan majority coalition a necessity. In addition, 60 votes are needed to pass a requisite procedural vote in the Senate. With just 52 seats, Senate Republicans will need bipartisan support in that chamber as well.

Among other guarantees, Democrats want assurances that insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act will continue to be funded. There have been discussions among Republicans that Democrats could agree to provide money for the construction of the wall in exchange for those health funds, but Democrats have refused.

Sunday morning, congressional Democrats submitted to Republicans a compromise spending plan, which included some new money for border security but only if it did not go toward a wall. Democrats also asked for assurances that the health insurance subsidies would continue to be funded, language that would shore up benefits for coal miners and a change that would expand Medicaid benefits to people in Puerto Rico, according to a senior Democratic congressional aide.

Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Monday that Congress was “on the path to get it done until [Trump] did intervene” and that the administration’s actions so far belied his campaign promise to “make Mexico pay” for the border wall.

James Norton, a former deputy assistant undersecretary for homeland security under President George W. Bush, said funding for technologies, such as cameras and radars, on the border has dropped off since the early 2000s. He said to get money for the wall or other border security measures, the administration will have to “sell specifics” to lawmakers.

“Each part is going to need to be sold in a specific way to Congress, and they’re going to have to hit the Hill hard,” Norton said. “It won’t be easy.”

Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost

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Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page – The Hill

President Trump is on a different page than Republican leaders in Congress just days away from a possible government shutdown.

Trump and the White House are pressuring Congress to include funding to build the president’s signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a bill to keep the government open past Friday.

GOP leaders, worried their party will be blamed for a shutdown and realizing they’ll need votes from Democrats to get a stopgap measure to Trump’s desk, have said funds for the wall should be dealt with in a supplemental spending bill or as part of next year’s appropriations process.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageOvernight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief’s net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronautPoll: Disapproval growing of Paul Ryan, GOP CongressMORE (R-Wis.) last month even noted that construction on the wall couldn’t begin soon.

“The big chunk of money for the wall, really, is … next year’s appropriations, because they literally can’t start construction even this quickly,” he told “CBS This Morning.”

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageGOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wallOvernight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief’s net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronautMORE (R-Ky.), asked at a press conference last month about the prospect of adding money for a wall to the spending bill, turned the question over to Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageGOP senator: There will never be full U.S.-Mexico border wallThis week: Congress returns to government shutdown fightMORE (R-Mo.), a member of his leadership team, who said a spending deal would come together more easily without bringing in such issues.

Such public signals have done little to diminish the administration’s enthusiasm for dealing with the wall right now, especially with Trump nearing his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former conservative GOP lawmaker, is demanding an early down payment on the wall — and has floated a compromise with Democrats that would see the administration provide critical funds for ObamaCare in exchange for wall funding. Democrats say they won’t make that deal.

Spokesmen for McConnell and Ryan on Monday declined to say where their bosses stood on the administration’s new push.

The public differences underscore how Trump’s demands for the wall are making life more difficult for his congressional allies, who increasingly must consider next year’s midterm elections.

“Trump is putting congressional Republicans in a difficult situation because he’s demanding things that are going to be very hard for them to deliver,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

“He wants money to build the border wall. … He could risk a government shutdown just over that issue,” he added. “Public opinion is not on his side either in the sense that large numbers of people don’t see that as a high priority.”

The issue of including border wall funds in the spending bill isn’t the only disconnect between Trump and GOP congressional leaders.

As Trump seeks to fulfill his campaign promises, he seems increasingly on a different page than are Ryan, McConnell and other top Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Trump on Wednesday is expected to announce a tax cut proposal that would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Such a proposal would almost certainly add to the deficit, something Ryan warned about late last year.

Ryan told Fox News in December that he would love to get the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent, but that it may not be feasible.

“Fifteen percent isn’t deficit-neutral,” Ryan said.

Ryan and other Republicans want to keep tax reform deficit-neutral so that they can use budget reconciliation rules to avoid a Senate filibuster. If such a bill adds to the deficit, the tax cuts would expire in 10 years.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageOvernight Tech: Dem wants to see FCC chief’s net neutrality plans | New agency panel on telecom diversity | Trump calls NASA astronautLighthizer expected to win committee approval to lead trade officeMORE (R-Utah) warned Monday that any tax bill that raises the deficit might not fly on Capitol Hill, where rising budget deficits have been a top concern of conservative lawmakers in recent years.

“I’m not sure he’s going to be able to get away with that,” he said.

When asked why not, Hatch replied, “Because you can’t very well balance the budget.”

ObamaCare is another disconnect.

While the White House has not been insistent on another vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare this week, it has repeatedly signaled its interest in pushing forward on the issue.

Ryan in a conference call with his members on Saturday signaled that his focus would be on keeping the government open and passing a spending bill — and not on ObamaCare.

Former Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), a senior appropriator when he served in Congress, said his former colleagues need to trust their instincts regardless of Trump’s demands.

“I think they need to trust their political instincts. They know what can be done. They’ve been through this drill before with other presidents,” he said.

“The president had a lot of preconceived ideas before he came to Washington, but events and politics are reshaping those,” he added. “He made promises that he feels compelled to try to keep. If he didn’t ask for these things, people would say, ‘Why the hell didn’t you just ask?’

“He is asking, but he’s getting a no.”

There is some talk of finding a compromise that might save face for the White House.

A Senate GOP aide said the legislation could increase funding for border security, enhancing surveillance and enforcement while stopping short of paying for construction of the wall itself.

“This is an opportunity for the president to get something to qualify as a down payment. Both sides will have something they can point to,” the aide said.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageJuan Williams: Trump’s 100 days wound GOPTrump wall faces skepticism on borderMORE (Texas) told reporters Monday afternoon that Democrats should at least agree to more money for border security.

“I think border security is important, and I think certainly completing or at least making a down payment … seems to be a no-brainer,” he said.

He conceded that “it sounds like everybody is looking to save face in one way or another.”

A Democratic aide said increased security funding could be a potential compromise.

“We never had a problem with border security; it’s the wall,” the aide said.

On taxes, some Republicans also suggested they were ready to give Trump some room.

Asked if deficit neutrality is still a top priority, Cornyn said Monday, “I don’t think anybody is drawing any lines in the sand.”

“There are different views and opinions on that,” Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneDisconnect: Trump, GOP not on same pageSeven major players in Trump’s trillion infrastructure pushTrump’s great tech opportunity is in spectrum sharingMORE (S.D.), the third-ranking member of the Senate GOP leadership, said about whether the cost of tax cuts needs to be offset. “Probably not entirely.”

Jordain Carney contributed.

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State Department website removes article touting history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate – Washington Post

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The State Department on Monday removed from its website an article about the history and lavish furnishings of President Trump’s privately owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, following questions about whether the federal government improperly promoted Trump’s moneymaking enterprises.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to the travelogue-style blog piece Monday, asking in a Twitter message why the State Department would spend “taxpayer $$ promoting the president’s private country club.”

The State Department issued a statement Monday apologizing for “any misperception.”

“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders,” the statement said.

It was not clear whether the item had been vetted for legal or ethical concerns.

The short item had been posted on a promotional website called “Share America” on April 4, ahead of Trump’s meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A version of the item was recently reposted on the website maintained by the U.S. Embassy in London, where it caught the attention of watchdog groups.

The item adopted Trump’s term “winter White House” for the ­members-only club. It did not expressly encourage foreigners to visit Mar-a-Lago, although other articles on the same website actively promote U.S. tourism. The item did note that the estate “is located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.”

“By visiting this ‘winter White House,’ Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer,” the item read. “The ornate Jazz Age house was designed with Old-World Spanish, Venetian and Portuguese influences” and filled with original owner Marjorie Merriweather Post’s collection of antiques, the article noted.

The item included photographs of the house and sumptuous interiors, and copies of Trump tweets mentioning Mar-a-Lago.

The article gave a brief summary of the 1927 mansion’s history, including Post’s desire that it be used by U.S. presidents as a retreat and the subsequent decision by the U.S. government that the property was too expensive to maintain. Trump bought it in 1985.

“After refurbishing the house and adding an events space, Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club,” the State Department item read. “Post’s dream of a winter White House came true with Trump’s election in 2016. Trump regularly works out of the house he maintains at Mar-a-Lago and uses the club to host foreign dignitaries.”

One watchdog group, American Oversight, called for an investigation by the State Department inspector general and said it would request public records documenting how the blog post was created.

The State Department describes the “Share America” site as its “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.”

The site is produced by the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which produces material distributed by U.S. embassies.

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State Department website removes article touting history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate – Washington Post

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The State Department on Monday removed from its website an article about the history and lavish furnishings of President Trump’s privately owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, following questions about whether the federal government improperly promoted Trump’s moneymaking enterprises.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to the travelogue-style blog piece Monday, asking in a Twitter message why the State Department would spend “taxpayer $$ promoting the president’s private country club.”

The State Department issued a statement Monday apologizing for “any misperception.”

“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders,” the statement said.

It was not clear whether the item had been vetted for legal or ethical concerns.

The short item had been posted on a promotional website called “Share America” on April 4, ahead of Trump’s meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A version of the item was recently reposted on the website maintained by the U.S. Embassy in London, where it caught the attention of watchdog groups.

The item adopted Trump’s term “winter White House” for the ­members-only club. It did not expressly encourage foreigners to visit Mar-a-Lago, although other articles on the same website actively promote U.S. tourism. The item did note that the estate “is located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.”

“By visiting this ‘winter White House,’ Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer,” the item read. “The ornate Jazz Age house was designed with Old-World Spanish, Venetian and Portuguese influences” and filled with original owner Marjorie Merriweather Post’s collection of antiques, the article noted.

The item included photographs of the house and sumptuous interiors, and copies of Trump tweets mentioning Mar-a-Lago.

The article gave a brief summary of the 1927 mansion’s history, including Post’s desire that it be used by U.S. presidents as a retreat and the subsequent decision by the U.S. government that the property was too expensive to maintain. Trump bought it in 1985.

“After refurbishing the house and adding an events space, Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club,” the State Department item read. “Post’s dream of a winter White House came true with Trump’s election in 2016. Trump regularly works out of the house he maintains at Mar-a-Lago and uses the club to host foreign dignitaries.”

One watchdog group, American Oversight, called for an investigation by the State Department inspector general and said it would request public records documenting how the blog post was created.

The State Department describes the “Share America” site as its “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.”

The site is produced by the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which produces material distributed by U.S. embassies.

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State Department website touts glittering history of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate – Washington Post

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A State Department website that promotes travel to the United States included an article this month about the history and lavish furnishings of President Trump’s privately owned Florida resort club Mar-a-Lago, opening questions about whether the federal government is improperly promoting Trump’s moneymaking enterprises.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to the travelogue-style blog piece Monday, asking in a Twitter message why the State Department would spend “taxpayer $$ promoting the president’s private country club.”

The State Department had no immediate comment on whether the item was appropriate or had been vetted for legal or ethical concerns. State Department spokesman Mark Toner was asked about the item during a news briefing Monday, but he said he had not heard about it. The department has promised a response.

The short item was posted on a promotional website called “Share America” on April 4, ahead of Trump’s meeting at Mar-a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping. A version of the item was recently reposted on the website maintained by the U.S. Embassy in London, where it caught the attention of watchdog groups.

The item adopts Trump’s term “winter White House” for the ­members-only club. It does not expressly encourage foreigners to visit Mar-a-Lago, although other articles on the same website actively promote U.S. tourism. The item does note that the estate “is located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.”

“By visiting this ‘winter White House,’ Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer,” the item reads. “The ornate Jazz Age house was designed with Old-World Spanish, Venetian and Portuguese influences” and filled with original owner Marjorie Merriweather Post’s collection of antiques, the article notes.

The item includes photographs of the house and sumptuous interiors, and copies of Trump tweets mentioning Mar-a-Lago.

The article gives a brief summary of the 1927 mansion’s history, including Post’s desire that it be used by U.S. presidents as a retreat and the subsequent decision by the U.S. government that the property was too expensive to maintain. Trump bought it in 1985.

“After refurbishing the house and adding an events space, Trump opened the estate to dues-paying members of the public in 1995 as the Mar-a-Lago Club,” the State Department item reads. “Post’s dream of a winter White House came true with Trump’s election in 2016. Trump regularly works out of the house he maintains at Mar-a-Lago and uses the club to host foreign dignitaries.”

The State Department describes the “Share America” site as its “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.”

The site is produced by the department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which produces material distributed by U.S. embassies.

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Donald Trump's Idiotic Shutdown Threat Could Destroy His Presidency – Slate Magazine

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill, on April 6 in Washington, D.C.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Donald Trump has positioned himself to wake up on Saturday, the 100th Day™ of his presidency, with a shut-down government. It would be a fitting celebration of the Trump administration’s legislative record on this arbitrary milestone. The president has backed himself into a corner from which his pride won’t easily allow him to escape. It will now be up to congressional Republicans to find their president a face-saving legislative maneuver to avoid a humiliating lapse of appropriations under unified GOP government.

Jim Newell is a Slate staff writer.

You may remember the Republican Congress well from such recent hits as the slapstick collapse in March of its promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, legislation they insist is still a work in progress. (We’ll see.)

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On the government funding front, though, Republicans had been managing appropriations in proper adult fashion and looked poised to avoid a shutdown when funding lapses on Friday at midnight. They were executing the process the way it was meant to be executed: by getting Democratic and Republican appropriators in a room to hash out something that could get a bipartisan mix of 216 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate. One neat benefit of bipartisan spending negotiations is that they allow Republican leaders to circumvent poison-pill demands from either the House Freedom Caucus or the Senate axis of Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul.

Republican leaders’ problem now lay not within their own caucuses, but with the president. Trump, who usually does not care what provisions are in the bills he would sign so long as he would get to sign something, has made it known recently that he wants money to start his Southern border wall within the newest spending bill.

Congressional leaders had consensus that “the wall,” divisive as it was, would be dealt with separately in a supplemental spending bill, or perhaps never. But then our mercurial president—hungry for some legislative “points on the board” pegged to his 100-days jubilee—got it in his head that it would be savvy politics to threaten Democrats with the sabotage of individual health care markets in exchange for a few billion dollars of “wall money” in this spending bill. It hadn’t occurred to him that crippled insurance markets would hurt the president’s own standing, especially if the president took active measures to cripple them. Democrats aren’t biting.

The jury’s still out on whether Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is himself the idiot whose idea this was, or if he just speaks for one. But he has served as the primary public spokesman for this wall-money-for-health-care play, and he’s made the case so publicly by now that it will be hard for the White House to walk it back without the appearance of defeat.

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Aside from the president himself, Mulvaney may be the only public spokesman for this play. Few congressional Republicans have the administration’s back. Rep. Peter King—who wrote the 2006 border fencing law the administration is trying to fund—doesn’t believe now is the right time to be having this fight. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a realist, said on CNN Monday morning that if the border wall demand was met as the White House is insisting, “it would be a Republican-only bill”—a gently coded way of saying that such an appropriations bill couldn’t pass the Senate, and the government would shut down. He also noted that he had yet to see any plan from the administration about “where and what that wall would look like.” Rep. Tom Cole, a leadership ally, said he “wouldn’t risk a $1 trillion funding bill for a $3 billion wall.” The wall demand is not something that the House’s most conservative members are pushing, either. Rep. Mark Sanford, a Freedom Caucus member, said “no” on Sunday when asked if the wall was worth a government shutdown. “I think there are still questions about, wait a minute, this is a guy that said the Mexicans were going to pay for it,” he added. Fair point.

Trump’s wall demand, based on false leverage, has little constituency on Capitol Hill and interrupted a relatively smooth process to avoid a shutdown that would be embarrassing for him and career-threatening for many Republicans in Congress. But the demand has been made, and the president has staked himself on it. How does this one end?

The distant, best-case scenario for the White House would be to get Democratic negotiators to concede on wall money. The only way it could conceivably do this is to give them much, much more than they’re offering. Instead of just offering to appropriate some of the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reductions, as the current offer stands, the administration could offer to give up on any further legislative efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and commit to improving the law. Or something. Yes, Democrats think the wall is dumb and counterproductive. But as I wrote last year, if Trump really thinks he needs the wall, then Democrats should consult the furthest reaches of their imagination on what to ask of this great American dealmaker.

Congress could also just ignore the president. Though Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that the president was “insistent” on wall funding, neither Trump nor Mulvaney would flatly say that the president wouldn’t accept a spending bill without it. Appropriators, then, could continue their work without the wall distraction, move a negotiated bill through the House and Senate, and dare Trump to veto it. But congressional Republicans might not be willing to challenge their new president quite so frontally.

The easiest face-saving option would be for Republican leaders to set up a separate vote on the wall. This is the tactic that ex-Speaker Boehner, time and again, tried to employ to assuage conservative hard-liners who were holding up a must-pass bill: a separate vote on whatever their pet issue was, be it repealing the Affordable Care Act or defunding Planned Parenthood. It never worked very well, because the conservative hard-liners recognized that they were just being offered “show votes” that would die in the Senate. It may not be as difficult to trick Trump, who treats the showier aspects of politics much more seriously than he does the actual policies. Speaker Ryan could set up a separate vote the following week on border-wall funding and whip the votes to pass it; Trump could then blame filibustering Senate Democrats for blocking the wall indefinitely. Fine! Win-win-win.

The last—and worst—thing Trump could do though, is refuse to budge, allow the government to shut down, lose support from congressional Republicans, and then make a tough decision as his approval numbers and the Republican share on the generic congressional ballot fall to roughly 20 percent.

It would have served the president to game this out a few more steps before running his mouth. That would be another perfect lesson for these first 100 days.

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Macron's strong finish in the French election shows populist wave may be ebbing – Washington Post

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BERLIN — In this era of fiery populism and muscular anti-globalist forces, politicians across Europe are suddenly discovering an electoral surprise.

It might actually pay to embrace the European Union.

The top finisher in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday is Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist who jets to Berlin to give speeches in English. The blue-and-yellow banner of the E.U. flutters off his campaign headquarters. He is strongly favored to beat his anti-Europe rival, Marine Le Pen, in a May 7 runoff.

After years in which the E.U. was the favorite foil for ascendant politicians on the continent, the 28-nation club may be making a comeback despite Brexit and President Trump’s euroskepticism. The Netherlands’ staunchly pro-European Green Left party quadrupled its support in elections last month. The former European Parliament president Martin Schulz is surging in polls ahead of September elections in Germany.

And Macron has promised, if elected, to help lead “an ambitious Europe,” restoring France to a preeminent place in the E.U. after years in which the French role has been diminished by its domestic struggles with unemployment, terrorism and political dysfunction. He pledges to push for reforms that would force stronger nations to protect weaker ones.

Sunday’s balloting showed French attitudes toward Europe split down the middle, with euroskeptic politicians winning nearly half the vote. In addition to Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left candidate, drew millions of votes. Opinion polls examining E.U. attitudes revealed conflicted feelings, with a majority of French respondents describing themselves as pro-E.U. but saying the institution needed deep reforms. 

Given such division, European leaders nervously watched the first-round voting to see which way France might tilt. On Monday, many political figures were unusually public about their support for Macron.

[Choice for French voters: Hope in Europe or fear of globalization]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that Macron’s first-place finish showed that “France AND Europe can win together. The center is stronger than the populists think!”

The centrist German lawmaker Alexander Lambsdorff heaped on more praise. Macron is “a French John F. Kennedy,” he told Germany’s ZDF television on Monday.

In a rare display of cross-continental comity, Macron also was congratulated by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a combative leftist who has sparred with the German government ever since he was forced to accept a humiliating bailout in 2015.

Pro-E.U. politicians were not the only ones to focus on Macron’s attitudes toward Europe.

Nigel Farage, the British anti-E.U. politician who helped lead last year’s Brexit campaign, tweeted dismissively that Macron gave his victory speech Sunday night “with EU flag behind him. Says it all.”

Leaders in Europe normally maintain a studious silence when the vote isn’t on their turf. That they didn’t in this case reflects the gravity for Europe of the final round of the French vote.

If Macron is elected — and opinion polls suggest he has a comfortable lead over Le Pen despite his first-round squeaker — continental leaders are cautiously optimistic that he can steer the beleaguered country back to its historically central role in European affairs. If Le Pen wins, modern Europe — defined by integration and growing cooperation across national boundaries — could fall apart after already being jolted by Britain’s decision to exit the E.U.

Analysts believe that if Macron can put more of a Gallic stamp on the E.U. machinery in Brussels, he may have a chance to shift France’s complicated attitude toward the bloc back toward more positive ground, particularly if he can also jump-start his country’s stalled economy.

“The French liked Europe when it was a greater France, but they feel today that it’s no longer the case. It’s a greater Germany,” said Eddy Fougier, an expert on anti-globalization movements at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

[French election: How the pollsters got the last laugh]

For all their concerns about the E.U., voters may be becoming more wary of disruptive European politicians as they watch Trump churn up political turmoil in the United States and Britain solidify its E.U. divorce plans.

Dutch euroskeptic leader Geert Wilders crashed out of front-runner status ahead of March elections in the Netherlands. Germany’s euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party spiked after Trump’s election but has more recently split and sputtered. Now the ascendant political force in Germany is Schulz, a center-left leader who spent more than two decades as a member of the European Parliament and has staked his career on a robust defense of Brussels.

And though Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star party is doing well before elections that must be called before spring 2018, few observers see them as the existential threat to Europe that a Le Pen presidency would be.

The support for the centrist politicians reflects “a reasonable approach to a reality that everybody must recognize, and that is the European Union,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Franco-German former European lawmaker who supports Macron. 

“Today more and more people are concerned about how we can protect Europe and the European project,” Cohn-Bendit said. “This has a link with Trump’s election, with Brexit.”

At a time when the E.U.’s popularity is on the wane, Macron has stood apart for his unabashed support for Europe and globalization. On a January trip to Berlin’s Humboldt University, he switched to flawless English to exhort students to build a stronger Europe. The move drew praise in Germany — and darts from his far-right rivals, who said he was disrespecting the French language.

As the European powers-that-be closed ranks around Macron on Monday, they took two major risks. One is that by backing the French centrist, they will fan the flames of anti-establishment ire that have propelled Le Pen’s rise. 

“It could reinforce some of the discontent in France among those who will see this as the global elite denying them their right to vote,” said Josef Janning, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

The other potential pitfall is that European leaders could find it more difficult to work with Le Pen if she wins. For months before Americans voted last year, European leaders denounced Trump — only to have to make amends this year with solicitous visits to the new U.S. president at the White House.

“It would have been dumb to speak out in the way they did if they thought she could still win,” Janning said. “They seem to view that possibility as close to zero.” 

Analysts suggested that, even if Macron wins, Europe’s centrists will need to keep their expectations in check for what he can achieve. 

“It may be that Europe’s leaders have an over-interpretation of the role Macron can play,” said Claire Demesmay, who studies France for the German Council on Foreign Relations. “The anti-European mood in France will still be there — and it could increase.”

Birnbaum reported from Paris. Virgile Demoustier in Paris, Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

Read more

The geographical divides behind Le Pen’s and Macron’s success

Marine Le Pen goes from fringe right-winger to major contender

After years of hiding their relationship, Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron enter the political stage together

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Macron's strong finish in the French election shows populist wave may be ebbing – Washington Post

By and ,

BERLIN — In this era of fiery populism and muscular anti-globalist forces, politicians across Europe are suddenly discovering an electoral surprise.

It might actually pay to embrace the European Union.

The top finisher in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday is Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist who jets to Berlin to give speeches in English. The blue-and-yellow banner of the E.U. flutters off his campaign headquarters. He is strongly favored to beat his anti-Europe rival, Marine Le Pen, in a May 7 runoff.

After years in which the E.U. was the favorite foil for ascendant politicians on the continent, the 28-nation club may be making a comeback despite Brexit and President Trump’s euroskepticism. The Netherlands’ staunchly pro-European Green Left party quadrupled its support in elections last month. The former European Parliament president Martin Schulz is surging in polls ahead of September elections in Germany.

And Macron has promised, if elected, to help lead “an ambitious Europe,” restoring France to a preeminent place in the E.U. after years in which the French role has been diminished by its domestic struggles with unemployment, terrorism and political dysfunction. He pledges to push for reforms that would force stronger nations to protect weaker ones.

Sunday’s balloting showed French attitudes toward Europe split down the middle, with euroskeptic politicians winning nearly half the vote. In addition to Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left candidate, drew millions of votes. Opinion polls examining E.U. attitudes revealed conflicted feelings, with a majority of French respondents describing themselves as pro-E.U. but saying the institution needed deep reforms. 

Given such division, European leaders nervously watched the first-round voting to see which way France might tilt. On Monday, many political figures were unusually public about their support for Macron.

[Choice for French voters: Hope in Europe or fear of globalization]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that Macron’s first-place finish showed that “France AND Europe can win together. The center is stronger than the populists think!”

The centrist German lawmaker Alexander Lambsdorff heaped on more praise. Macron is “a French John F. Kennedy,” he told Germany’s ZDF television on Monday.

In a rare display of cross-continental comity, Macron also was congratulated by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a combative leftist who has sparred with the German government ever since he was forced to accept a humiliating bailout in 2015.

Pro-E.U. politicians were not the only ones to focus on Macron’s attitudes toward Europe.

Nigel Farage, the British anti-E.U. politician who helped lead last year’s Brexit campaign, tweeted dismissively that Macron gave his victory speech Sunday night “with EU flag behind him. Says it all.”

Leaders in Europe normally maintain a studious silence when the vote isn’t on their turf. That they didn’t in this case reflects the gravity for Europe of the final round of the French vote.

If Macron is elected — and opinion polls suggest he has a comfortable lead over Le Pen despite his first-round squeaker — continental leaders are cautiously optimistic that he can steer the beleaguered country back to its historically central role in European affairs. If Le Pen wins, modern Europe — defined by integration and growing cooperation across national boundaries — could fall apart after already being jolted by Britain’s decision to exit the E.U.

Analysts believe that if Macron can put more of a Gallic stamp on the E.U. machinery in Brussels, he may have a chance to shift France’s complicated attitude toward the bloc back toward more positive ground, particularly if he can also jump-start his country’s stalled economy.

“The French liked Europe when it was a greater France, but they feel today that it’s no longer the case. It’s a greater Germany,” said Eddy Fougier, an expert on anti-globalization movements at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

[French election: How the pollsters got the last laugh]

For all their concerns about the E.U., voters may be becoming more wary of disruptive European politicians as they watch Trump churn up political turmoil in the United States and Britain solidify its E.U. divorce plans.

Dutch euroskeptic leader Geert Wilders crashed out of front-runner status ahead of March elections in the Netherlands. Germany’s euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party spiked after Trump’s election but has more recently split and sputtered. Now the ascendant political force in Germany is Schulz, a center-left leader who spent more than two decades as a member of the European Parliament and has staked his career on a robust defense of Brussels.

And though Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star party is doing well before elections that must be called before spring 2018, few observers see them as the existential threat to Europe that a Le Pen presidency would be.

The support for the centrist politicians reflects “a reasonable approach to a reality that everybody must recognize, and that is the European Union,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Franco-German former European lawmaker who supports Macron. 

“Today more and more people are concerned about how we can protect Europe and the European project,” Cohn-Bendit said. “This has a link with Trump’s election, with Brexit.”

At a time when the E.U.’s popularity is on the wane, Macron has stood apart for his unabashed support for Europe and globalization. On a January trip to Berlin’s Humboldt University, he switched to flawless English to exhort students to build a stronger Europe. The move drew praise in Germany — and darts from his far-right rivals, who said he was disrespecting the French language.

As the European powers-that-be closed ranks around Macron on Monday, they took two major risks. One is that by backing the French centrist, they will fan the flames of anti-establishment ire that have propelled Le Pen’s rise. 

“It could reinforce some of the discontent in France among those who will see this as the global elite denying them their right to vote,” said Josef Janning, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

The other potential pitfall is that European leaders could find it more difficult to work with Le Pen if she wins. For months before Americans voted last year, European leaders denounced Trump — only to have to make amends this year with solicitous visits to the new U.S. president at the White House.

“It would have been dumb to speak out in the way they did if they thought she could still win,” Janning said. “They seem to view that possibility as close to zero.” 

Analysts suggested that, even if Macron wins, Europe’s centrists will need to keep their expectations in check for what he can achieve. 

“It may be that Europe’s leaders have an over-interpretation of the role Macron can play,” said Claire Demesmay, who studies France for the German Council on Foreign Relations. “The anti-European mood in France will still be there — and it could increase.”

Birnbaum reported from Paris. Virgile Demoustier in Paris, Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

Read more

The geographical divides behind Le Pen’s and Macron’s success

Marine Le Pen goes from fringe right-winger to major contender

After years of hiding their relationship, Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron enter the political stage together

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Macron's strong finish in the French elections shows populist surge may fade – Washington Post

By and ,

BERLIN — In this era of fiery populism and muscular anti-globalist forces, politicians across Europe are suddenly discovering an electoral surprise.

It might actually pay to embrace the European Union.

The top finisher in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday is Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist who jets to Berlin to give speeches in English. The blue-and-yellow banner of the E.U. flutters off his campaign headquarters. He is strongly favored to beat his anti-Europe rival, Marine Le Pen, in a May 7 runoff.

After years in which the European Union was the favorite foil for ascendant politicians on the continent, the 28-nation club may be making a comeback despite Brexit and President Trump’s euroskepticism. The Netherlands’ staunchly pro-European Green-Left party quadrupled its support in elections last month. The former European Parliament president Martin Schulz is surging in polls ahead of September elections in Germany.

And Macron has promised, if elected, to help lead “an ambitious Europe,” restoring France to a preeminent place in the E.U. after years in which the French role has been diminished by its domestic struggles with unemployment, terrorism and political dysfunction. He pledges to push for reforms that would force stronger nations to protect weaker ones, saying he can win over Germany, which he has already visited twice during the presidential campaign.

Sunday’s balloting showed French attitudes toward Europe split down the middle, with euroskeptic politicians winning nearly half the vote. In addition to Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left candidate, drew millions of votes. Opinion polls examining E.U. attitudes revealed conflicted feelings, with a majority of French respondents describing themselves as pro-E.U. but saying the institution needed deep reforms. 

Given such division, European leaders nervously watched the first-round voting to see which way France might tilt. On Monday, many political figures were unusually public about their support for Macron.

[Choice for French voters: Hope in Europe or fear of globalization]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that Macron’s first-place finish showed that “France AND Europe can win together. The center is stronger than the populists think!”

The centrist German lawmaker Alexander Lambsdorff heaped on more praise. Macron is “a French John F. Kennedy,” he told Germany’s ZDF television on Monday.

In a rare display of cross-continental comity, Macron also was congratulated by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a combative leftist who has sparred with the German government ever since he was forced to accept a humiliating bailout in 2015.

Pro-E.U. politicians were not the only ones to focus on Macron’s attitudes toward Europe.

Nigel Farage, the British anti-E.U. politician who helped lead last year’s Brexit campaign, wrote dismissively that Macron gave his victory speech Sunday night “with E.U. flag behind him. Says it all.”

Leaders in Europe normally maintain a studious silence when the vote isn’t on their turf. That they didn’t in this case reflects the gravity for Europe of the final round of the French election.

If Macron is elected – and opinion polls suggest he has a comfortable lead over Le Pen despite his first-round squeaker – continental leaders are cautiously optimistic that he can steer the beleaguered country back to its historically central role in European affairs. If Le Pen wins, modern Europe — defined by integration and growing cooperation across national boundaries — could fall apart after already being jolted by Britain’s decision to exit the E.U.

Analysts believe that if Macron can put more of a Gallic stamp on the E.U. machinery in Brussels, he may have a chance to shift France’s complicated attitude toward the European Union back toward more positive ground, particularly if he can also jumpstart his country’s stalled economy.

“The French liked Europe when it was a greater France, but they feel today that it’s no longer the case. It’s a greater Germany,” said Eddy Fougier, an expert on anti-globalization movements at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

[French election: How the pollsters got the last laugh]

For all their concerns about the E.U., voters may be becoming more wary of disruptive European politicians as they watch Trump churn up political turmoil in the United States and Britain solidify its E.U. divorce plans.

Dutch euroskeptic leader Geert Wilders crashed out of frontrunner status ahead of March elections in the Netherlands. Germany’s euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party spiked after Trump’s election but has more recently split and sputtered. Now the ascendant political force in Germany is Schulz, a center-left leader who spent more than two decades as a member of European Parliament and has staked his career on a robust defense of Brussels.

And though Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star party is doing well before elections that must be called before spring 2018, few observers see them as the existential threat to Europe that a Le Pen presidency would be.

The support for the centrist politicians reflects “a reasonable approach to a reality that everybody must recognize, and that is the European Union,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Franco-German former European lawmaker who supports Macron. 

“Today more and more people are concerned about how we can protect Europe and the European project,” Cohn-Bendit said. “This has a link with Trump’s election, with Brexit.”

At a time when the E.U.’s popularity is on the wane, Macron has stood apart for his unabashed support for Europe and globalization. On a January trip to Berlin’s Humboldt University, he switched to flawless English to exhort students to build a stronger Europe. The move drew praise in Germany – and darts from his far-right rivals, who said he was disrespecting the French language.

As the European powers-that-be closed ranks around Macron on Monday, they took two major risks. One is that by backing the French centrist, they will fan the flames of anti-establishment ire that have propelled Le Pen’s rise. 

“It may be counterproductive,” said Josef Janning, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It could reinforce some of the discontent in France among those who will see this as the global elite denying them their right to vote.” 

The other potential pitfall is that European leaders could find it more difficult to work with Le Pen if she defies the polls and wins. For months before Americans voted last year, European leaders denounced Trump — only to have to make amends this year with solicitous visits to the new U.S. president at the White House.

“It would have been dumb to speak out in the way they did if they thought she could still win,” Janning said. “They seem to view that possibility as close to zero.” 

Analysts suggested that, even if Macron wins, Europe’s centrists will need to keep their expectations in check for what he can achieve. 

“It may be that Europe’s leaders have an over-interpretation of the role Macron can play,” said Claire Demesmay, who studies France for the German Council on Foreign Relations. “The anti-European mood in France will still be there — and it could increase.”

[email protected]

Birnbaum reported from Paris. Virgile Demoustier in Paris, Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

Read more

The geographical divides behind Le Pen’s and Macron’s success

Marine Le Pen goes from fringe right-winger to major contender

After years of hiding their relationship, Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron enter the political stage together

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Macron's strong finish in the French elections shows populist surge may fade – Washington Post

By and ,

BERLIN — In this era of fiery populism and muscular anti-globalist forces, politicians across Europe are suddenly discovering an electoral surprise.

It might actually pay to embrace the European Union.

The top finisher in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday is Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist who jets to Berlin to give speeches in English. The blue-and-yellow banner of the E.U. flutters off his campaign headquarters. He is strongly favored to beat his anti-Europe rival, Marine Le Pen, in a May 7 runoff.

After years in which the European Union was the favorite foil for ascendant politicians on the continent, the 28-nation club may be making a comeback despite Brexit and President Trump’s euroskepticism. The Netherlands’ staunchly pro-European Green-Left party quadrupled its support in elections last month. The former European Parliament president Martin Schulz is surging in polls ahead of September elections in Germany.

And Macron has promised, if elected, to help lead “an ambitious Europe,” restoring France to a preeminent place in the E.U. after years in which the French role has been diminished by its domestic struggles with unemployment, terrorism and political dysfunction. He pledges to push for reforms that would force stronger nations to protect weaker ones, saying he can win over Germany, which he has already visited twice during the presidential campaign.

Sunday’s balloting showed French attitudes toward Europe split down the middle, with euroskeptic politicians winning nearly half the vote. In addition to Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a far-left candidate, drew millions of votes. Opinion polls examining E.U. attitudes revealed conflicted feelings, with a majority of French respondents describing themselves as pro-E.U. but saying the institution needed deep reforms. 

Given such division, European leaders nervously watched the first-round voting to see which way France might tilt. On Monday, many political figures were unusually public about their support for Macron.

[Choice for French voters: Hope in Europe or fear of globalization]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted that Macron’s first-place finish showed that “France AND Europe can win together. The center is stronger than the populists think!”

The centrist German lawmaker Alexander Lambsdorff heaped on more praise. Macron is “a French John F. Kennedy,” he told Germany’s ZDF television on Monday.

In a rare display of cross-continental comity, Macron also was congratulated by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a combative leftist who has sparred with the German government ever since he was forced to accept a humiliating bailout in 2015.

Pro-E.U. politicians were not the only ones to focus on Macron’s attitudes toward Europe.

Nigel Farage, the British anti-E.U. politician who helped lead last year’s Brexit campaign, wrote dismissively that Macron gave his victory speech Sunday night “with E.U. flag behind him. Says it all.”

Leaders in Europe normally maintain a studious silence when the vote isn’t on their turf. That they didn’t in this case reflects the gravity for Europe of the final round of the French election.

If Macron is elected – and opinion polls suggest he has a comfortable lead over Le Pen despite his first-round squeaker – continental leaders are cautiously optimistic that he can steer the beleaguered country back to its historically central role in European affairs. If Le Pen wins, modern Europe — defined by integration and growing cooperation across national boundaries — could fall apart after already being jolted by Britain’s decision to exit the E.U.

Analysts believe that if Macron can put more of a Gallic stamp on the E.U. machinery in Brussels, he may have a chance to shift France’s complicated attitude toward the European Union back toward more positive ground, particularly if he can also jumpstart his country’s stalled economy.

“The French liked Europe when it was a greater France, but they feel today that it’s no longer the case. It’s a greater Germany,” said Eddy Fougier, an expert on anti-globalization movements at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

[French election: How the pollsters got the last laugh]

For all their concerns about the E.U., voters may be becoming more wary of disruptive European politicians as they watch Trump churn up political turmoil in the United States and Britain solidify its E.U. divorce plans.

Dutch euroskeptic leader Geert Wilders crashed out of frontrunner status ahead of March elections in the Netherlands. Germany’s euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party spiked after Trump’s election but has more recently split and sputtered. Now the ascendant political force in Germany is Schulz, a center-left leader who spent more than two decades as a member of European Parliament and has staked his career on a robust defense of Brussels.

And though Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star party is doing well before elections that must be called before spring 2018, few observers see them as the existential threat to Europe that a Le Pen presidency would be.

The support for the centrist politicians reflects “a reasonable approach to a reality that everybody must recognize, and that is the European Union,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a Franco-German former European lawmaker who supports Macron. 

“Today more and more people are concerned about how we can protect Europe and the European project,” Cohn-Bendit said. “This has a link with Trump’s election, with Brexit.”

At a time when the E.U.’s popularity is on the wane, Macron has stood apart for his unabashed support for Europe and globalization. On a January trip to Berlin’s Humboldt University, he switched to flawless English to exhort students to build a stronger Europe. The move drew praise in Germany – and darts from his far-right rivals, who said he was disrespecting the French language.

As the European powers-that-be closed ranks around Macron on Monday, they took two major risks. One is that by backing the French centrist, they will fan the flames of anti-establishment ire that have propelled Le Pen’s rise. 

“It may be counterproductive,” said Josef Janning, head of the Berlin office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It could reinforce some of the discontent in France among those who will see this as the global elite denying them their right to vote.” 

The other potential pitfall is that European leaders could find it more difficult to work with Le Pen if she defies the polls and wins. For months before Americans voted last year, European leaders denounced Trump — only to have to make amends this year with solicitous visits to the new U.S. president at the White House.

“It would have been dumb to speak out in the way they did if they thought she could still win,” Janning said. “They seem to view that possibility as close to zero.” 

Analysts suggested that, even if Macron wins, Europe’s centrists will need to keep their expectations in check for what he can achieve. 

“It may be that Europe’s leaders have an over-interpretation of the role Macron can play,” said Claire Demesmay, who studies France for the German Council on Foreign Relations. “The anti-European mood in France will still be there — and it could increase.”

[email protected]

Birnbaum reported from Paris. Virgile Demoustier in Paris, Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

Read more

The geographical divides behind Le Pen’s and Macron’s success

Marine Le Pen goes from fringe right-winger to major contender

After years of hiding their relationship, Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron enter the political stage together

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

Let’s block ads! (Why?)