Partial Government Shutdown Prolonged by Democrats’ Refusal to Negotiate
‘[T]oday’s Democrats now say the same fencing and barriers that were A-okay when President Obama was in the White House are now “immoral” because President Trump is the one making the request. This isn’t how you make serious policy. Partisan tantrums are no way to govern. My Democratic colleagues need to get serious about their responsibilities, seek treatment for their brand-new partisan allergy to border security, sit down with the president, and negotiate a solution that works for everyone.'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to secure our border and fund the government:
“All week, I’ve been outlining the humanitarian and security crisis at our nation’s southern border. I’ve discussed the threats from the inflow of drugs and criminal aliens. I’ve shared career border security experts’ strong support for physical barriers. And I’ve cited the empirical data that actually backs up them up. But on Day 20 of this partial government shutdown -- a shutdown being prolonged by my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to even come to the table -- I thought I might try something different this morning.
“So, I brought a visual aid. The chart behind me sums up my Democratic colleagues’ past and present positions on border security. On the left, here, we have a steel bollard border fence at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona. Construction on this upgraded, steel-slat barrier began in 2011, at the direction – mind you – of President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.
“Just five years prior, of course, then-Senator Obama joined with then-Senator Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic Leader, and several other Democrats when they all voted to authorize about 700 miles of physical barriers under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Now, here on the right, we have an example of a barrier like those the new Speaker of the House has recently described as ‘immoral.’ Now I would defy my colleagues to tell me what the difference is. They’re exactly identical.
“So, we went from the Obama Administration – where everyone was supporting a wall that looked just like this – to the Trump Administration where now, it’s ‘immoral.’ The kind of barrier all of a sudden, that Senate Democrats are so opposed to, that they’d rather prolong a partial government shutdown. They’d rather do that than agree to an additional investment of approximately one-tenth of one percent of federal spending. Identical walls, exactly alike. When President Obama was there they were for it and when President Trump’s there they’re not.
“As I said, it’s the same photograph twice basically. I do that to underscore the point that the Trump Administration is requesting funding for the same kinds of physical barriers that the Obama Administration was proud to build: Fencing with spaced slats that allow visibility, made with reinforced steel. They’re the same kinds of barriers that Customs and Border Protection experts have told us actually produce real results. You can call them walls. You can call them fences. You can call them steel slats. What they really are is effective. Call them what you will – they’re effective.
“According to the Government Accountability Office, after the outdated fencing in Nogales was replaced by this steel-slat structure, the Border Patrol reported a significant drop in violent encounters with illegal immigrants. During the two years leading up to the 2011 construction, 376 assaults on Border Patrol agents were recorded in the Nogales station. In the two years after the bollard fence went up, the number of assaults fell to 71. That’s a decline of 81%. We’ve seen big success in other sectors, as well. The Trump Administration reports that, in four border sectors where physical barriers were recently built or upgraded, illegal traffic dropped by – listen to this – more than 90%.
“So, it’s a fact that physical barriers are effective. As Democratic Senators used to understand perfectly well -- and indeed, used to say publicly -- they are an essential ingredient in a balanced strategy for securing our border. That was then, and this is now. So, why this tale of two completely Democratic parties? Why does the Speaker of the House feel compelled to denounce as ‘immoral’ the very kinds of structures that her own party leaders recently praised as essential? Why does my colleague the Democratic Leader feel the need to prolong this partial government shutdown to avoid getting more of the same investments he used to vote for? What’s the reason for this bizarre about-face?
“Well, even these very Democrats are finding it difficult to invent a good excuse. On Tuesday, the distinguished House Majority Leader, Mr. Hoyer, was asked by reporters how there is any real daylight between the border security construction projects that Democrats have supported in the past and the ones they are now trying to block. Here’s what Majority Leader Hoyer said to those reporters. Now, this is an honest man -- ‘... I don’t have an answer that I think is a really good answer.’ That’s the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.
“The reason is there isn’t a good answer. There’s no credible answer to this massive flip-flop. So, we all know what the real reason is: My Democratic colleagues are operating purely on political spite directed at the President of the United States. Why else would they rather have a partial government shutdown drag on for nearly three weeks than get more of what they used to vote for and brag about? Why else would they plug their ears and refuse to listen to the experts on the ground? Like President Obama’s own former Border Patrol chief, who stated just days ago – this is a direct quote -- ‘I cannot think of a legitimate argument why anyone would not support the wall as part of the multilayered border security issue.’
“Remember, the proposal we’re talking about today would represent one tenth of one percent of federal spending for this year. One one-thousandth. So, with a straight face, Democrats are trying to convince the country that the federal government simply cannot reopen. That they simply cannot negotiate with the president. Because the sky would come crashing down if we invest one one-thousandth of federal spending in proven border security solutions that, by the way, their own party used to support. And that President Obama’s Border Patrol chief and other security experts continue to support.
“Let’s call this what it is. A flip-flop that is not based in principle, or in evidence, but solely in the fact that President Trump is the occupant of the White House. Republicans support the president’s commonsense request. The experts on the ground, who actually risk their own safety to secure our nation, support it. Even the 2006 versions of President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and my friend the Democrat Leader would have supported it.
“But today’s Democrats now say the same fencing and barriers that were A-okay when President Obama was in the White House are now ‘immoral’ because President Trump is the one making the request. This isn’t how you make serious policy. Partisan tantrums are no way to govern. My Democratic colleagues need to get serious about their responsibilities, seek treatment for their brand-new partisan allergy to border security, sit down with the president, and negotiate a solution that works for everyone. That is the only way to move the country forward.”
Related Issues: Immigration, Senate Democrats, Homeland Security, Appropriations