That soft, shuffling sound you hear is Congressional Republicans stepping away from President Trump.
It's hard to hear above the din from the Oval Office. But through their new spending compromise, GOP leaders signaled clearly that they, like Congressional Democrats, will no longer play border-wall make-believe with President Trump.
Trump sought the White House promising to build a "great wall" along the U.S. border with Mexico. Assailing previous presidents as ineffectual, he vowed to make Mexico pay for it.
GOP leaders always understood that pledge as fanciful, even as they cautiously avoided saying so out loud. Last December, when Trump changed his mind and chose a government shutdown over a bipartisan spending compromise, they reluctantly went along.
But 35 days of political pain, ending with Trump's initial surrender last month, changed their calculations.
Conservative Republican negotiators – Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Rep. Kay Granger of Texas – struck the deal with Democrats last night even as Trump roared about the wall in El Paso. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised swift action with a presidential endorsement.
"You've got to govern," explained Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. He acknowledged it as an "incremental" deal that does not match Trump's grandiose 2016 pledge.
When Trump launched his 2016 campaign, the U.S. government had constructed nearly 700 miles of barriers along the 2,000 mile border. That number remains unchanged today.
The new compromise adds another 55 miles. Those new barriers — financed by American taxpayers — will be limited to the same kinds of fencing built under Trump's predecessors, not the new concrete wall or other "impenetrable" structure he had promised. American taxpayers will finance the $1.375-billion cost, well below the $5.7-billion the president had demanded.
Stuck between hard-core supporters and the majority Americans opposed to the wall and another shutdown, Trump today pronounced himself "not happy" — but didn't threaten a veto. He lacks good choices.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter accused him of cowardice, calling the compromise his "Yellow New Deal." Trump confidant Sean Hannity, the Fox News anchor, denounced the "garbage compromise" Republican negotiators struck.
It won't be the last one.