Local lawmakers at odds over Trump's border wall
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Call it the battle of budge.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats appear any closer to a deal that would end the government shutdown, now in its 19thday. Top Democrats met with President Trump Wednesday.
“We all want border security, but there are different views on how to get there,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“We want national security and border security for our country,” President Trump during a news conference following the afternoon meeting.
The President’s primetime address Tuesday night has seemed to energize House Republicans, including New York Congressman Tom Reed, whose district covers Chautauqua County. Reed has long pushed for border security, including the wall.
“When you’re talking about border security, you’re talking about structures,” Reed said. “That means walls, that means fencing. That also means more than that and rightfully so. It also means technology, it means people.”
Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), a longtime Trump supporter, has also backed the wall.
"It is clear to me and to most Americans that constructing a wall along portions of our southern border is not only justifiable but long overdue," Kelly said in a statement following the President's address Tuesday night.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday refuted the President’s claims that there is, in his words, a “crisis” at the country’s Southern border that Trump says is resulting in increased crime, drug pedaling and human trafficking by illegal immigrants.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling some those stats misleading and the would-be wall ineffective.
“We should not confuse effective border security with the ‘wall’ or ‘steel slats’,” Casey said Wednesday.
Right now, Senate Democrats are leading an effort to stop any legislation not related to the shutdown until some House resolutions that would fund the government are brought to the Senate floor. However, it’s unlikely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will let that happen, saying the President won’t sign those bills.
Casey, a Democrat himself, generally supports that plan.
“All the President would have to do is pretty simple: Tell Leader McConnell to put the House Democratic bill, which are really Republican Appropriations bills, on the Senate floor,” Casey said. “It will pass.”
Pennsylvania's junior Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, sided with the President, calling on Democrats to finish funding the border wall they previously supported.
“(Tuesday), we heard a clear case for boosting security and humanitarian aid funding at our southern border. I support these objectives, provided taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively," Toomey said in a statement. "There is a deal to be made given that Democrats repeatedly supported billions in funding to maintain and expand the existing 350 miles of security fencing along the southern border prior to President Trump’s election.”
The partial shutdown has left roughly 800,000 government employees and contractors out of work or working unpaid since Dec. 22.
It’s also nearing the longest shutdown in history, which stands at 21 days.