House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), noting that Republicans in border states aren’t all on board with President Trump’s plan for a border wall, argued Sunday that Trump “talking about this wall is expressing a sign of weakness.”
“He’s saying, I can’t control our borders. I have to build a wall,” she told NBC. “We certainly would like to — we have a responsibility to control our borders. Building a wall is not an answer, not here or anyplace.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that no lawmaker whose district touches the Mexican border currently supports the wall construction, including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), John McCain (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Ted Cruz (Texas), whose concerns have included favoring hi-tech monitoring over a physical barrier.
“The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise and when the president says, well, I promised a wall during my campaigns, I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall onto the taxpayer,” Pelosi said, adding “you have to understand this part of the country — there’s a community with the border going through it.”
The administration is seeking a $1.4 billion down payment from Congress, and has signaled it wants to play hardball to get the funding. Lawmakers have a week to approve an overall funding bill or the government shuts down.
“I don’t think anybody is trying to get to a shutdown. Shutdown is not a desired end. It’s not a tool. It’s not something that we want to have,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday. “We want our priorities funded and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security, keeping Americans safe and part of that was a border wall. And we don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it.”
Mulvaney said Trump is still open, though, to signing a government funding bill that does not include wall funding.
“We are offering to give Democrats some of their priorities as well. They made it very clear that they want these cost-sharing reduction payments as part of Obamacare. We don’t like those very much, but we have offered to open the discussions to give the Democrats something they want in order to get something we want,” he added.
The OMB director said Friday that Dems could have “$1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told NBC, “I think that as long as the president’s priorities are adequately reflected in the [continuing resolution] and it allows us to get moving with an increase in military spending and a rebuilding of our military… and there’s enough as far as flexibility for the border wall and border security, I think we’ll be OK with that.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN on Sunday that Democrats in the House and the Senate “are ready to work and cooperate with Republicans to keep our government open.”
“But we told the president and the Republicans weeks ago, don’t try any political stunts. Don’t put any poison pills into this process. Let’s just do the — our responsible, important work of funding this government,” Durbin said.
“We know what this wall is all about. This was a promise made by the president during his campaign. And don’t you remember, he said the Mexicans were going to pay for it? Now we know it’s going to cost $20 billion to $70 billion for this wall,” he added. “I hope the president will back off.”
“To think that he would consider shutting down the government of the United States of America over this outlandish proposal of a border wall, which we can’t even pay for at this point, and is opposed by Democrats and Republicans all along the border, that would be the height of irresponsibility. He would not want that to define his first 100 days.”
Asked on CBS’ Face the Nation if a border wall is the No. 1 solution, in his mind, to stopping illegal immigration, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly replied “there is no silver bullet solution to any of this.”
“I really do wish that the Congress would really join together in a bipartisan way and figure out these incredibly complex immigration laws and make some decisions on how to deal with those that are here illegally, illegally and behaving themselves,” Kelly said.
“But a border wall, security wall, technology, patrolling, all of that is very effective, but just as effective, I think and just as important is us helping reduce the amount of crime in Mexico and Central America because of the drug demand in our country. That is really the No. 1 fuel of the problems.”