Democrats Stand by Demand to Reopen Government Before Negotiations on Border Security
A day after President Donald Trump offered his plan to end the shutdown and fund a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for groups of immigrants, Democrats stood by their demand to reopen the government before negotiating about the border.
“Let’s not hold the American people, especially the federal workers, hostage to these negotiations,” South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of Democratic leadership, told Fox News. “And hopefully we will open with what he has put on the table, and let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground.”
The Democratic rejection came as Vice President Mike Pence made clear the GOP intended to go forward with the plan the President outlined, positions that combined to show little tangible progress toward ending the longest government shutdown on record.
Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to taunt House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and knock her for rejecting the deal.
“Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work,” Trump tweeted.
He added, “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”
Pence backed up Trump’s position on “Fox News Sunday,” calling Pelosi’s rejection of the deal “disappointing.”
“What President Trump did here is he set the table for a deal that will address the crisis on the border, secure our border and give us a pathway to reopen the government,” Pence said.
Trump delivered a speech on Saturday where he described an offer to end the shutdown that would include temporary deportation protections in exchange for $5.7 billion in money for his wall or physical barrier along the US border with Mexico.
Pelosi said the offer was a “non-starter” that did “not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.”
“You’ve got to start by opening the government”
Other Democrats on Sunday largely echoed her position.
House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson said the 800,000 federal workers hit by the shutdown needed to be paid.
“We should not be in this situation,” the Mississippi Democrat said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Put the people back to work, and let’s negotiate border security, but don’t hold those 800,000 employees hostage in this situation. Democrats are for border security, but we want to talk about it.”
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said Democrats should not “reward the kind of behavior of hostage-taking” and called for an end to the shutdown before discussing Trump’s proposal.
“Let me make clear, that what the President proposed yesterday, increasing border security, looking at (Temporary Protected Status), looking at the Dreamers — I’ll use that as a starting point, but you’ve got to start by opening the government,” Warner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who entered the 2020 race just days ago, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper that Trump’s offer of only temporary protection from deportation showed he “has no empathy” for people affected by the decision.
“Border security and investing in keeping us safe is a better way to talk about it because a wall is a waste of money and will not actually help us create safety,” she added.
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, said in a separate interview on the same CNN program that “both sides” were responsible for the ongoing impasse and called for genuine negotiations.
“Both sides have completely hardened their positions and are unwilling to come together and work out the differences,” said Gabbard, who recently announced her intention to run for president. “And that’s the problem here.”