A deal can be made to secure the border and reopen the part of the federal government that is shut down, but Congress and President Donald Trump shouldn’t do one without the other, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Tuesday.
“I agree with the president that we need to be taking action. I believe there is a deal that could be made,” the Spokane Republican said in an interview after Trump and Democratic leaders addressed the nation on the issue.
But Democrat Patty Murray, Washington’s senior senator, said Trump was “willing to say and do anything” to justify a wasteful border wall, adding the shutdown was “reckless and wrong.”
In a statement released after the speeches, Murray said Senate Republicans should allow a vote on a bill passed by the chamber just last month that was passed by the House shortly after the new Congress convened. They should also “demand President Trump stop wasting precious time and money by doubling down on a shallow campaign promise that everyone knows is not the answer to securing our southern border and making our country safe.”
McMorris Rodgers, the most senior Republican in the state delegation, contends a wall or barrier is a necessary element of better border security. Congressional leaders should broker a new deal, she said, that includes the $5.7 billion Trump wants for a barrier in exchange for an opportunity for eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, program.
The amount Trump is requesting for the wall is relatively small compared to the rest of the federal budget, she said. But without the money Trump is requesting for a physical barrier, Congress shouldn’t vote to reopen idled government operations, McMorris Rodgers said.
“This is the moment that we need to strike the deal. We should keep the pressure on to secure the border,” she said.
How long Congress and the president should be willing to keep a large part of the federal government closed, with some employees furloughed and others working without pay, is hard to say, McMorris Rodgers said.
“It’s extremely difficult when people are not getting paid,” she said.
On that point, Murray agreed. The shutdown is “endangering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers who have no idea when they will see their next paycheck.”
Declaring a national emergency – which the Trump administration has mentioned but the president did not suggest Tuesday night – is not the right approach, McMorris Rodgers said.
“In divided government, both parties have to come to the table and responsibly govern,” she said.