On December 20, I voted to keep the government open. The bill I voted for in the House of Representatives not only funded the government, but also funded the comprehensive border security we need to end the crisis that is happening at our southern border. Unfortunately, not one single Democrat in the House voted to avoid the partial government shutdown.
We could have prevented the shutdown right then and there, but when the bill passed by the House made its way to the Senate, it languished and died due to the chamber’s 60-vote cloture rule. Over 800,000 federal employees were impacted by the partial government shutdown that lasted for 35 days.
Now that we have funded the government until February 15, it’s clear both parties will have to resolve their differences before government funding runs out again. While I’m pleased that our federal workers will now get paid, I am very disappointed that we did not get funding for the border fence. Democrats have repeatedly said that they’ll negotiate on border security once the government reopens. Now is their chance to come to the table and live up to their promise.
I have been and am willing to compromise, but my Democrat colleagues need to compromise, too. Unfortunately, the Democrats refused to do just that. They rejected requests to meet with President Trump at the White House and provided no counter offer. What’s worse is that Republicans even offered legislation three times to get federal workers paid immediately, so they didn’t have to miss another paycheck. But Democrats kept voting no, and the efforts failed. Our federal workers were held hostage by Democrats who refused to negotiate.
Republicans are still asking for funding for a border fence that equates to one-tenth of 1 percent of the overall federal budget. A fence is only part of the solution, but it’s absolutely necessary if we are going to end this crisis once and for all. That’s because fences work. Here are the facts. In 2000, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) built a fence in the Tucson, Arizona sector. Over 15 years, illegal traffic dropped 90 percent. In 2005, DHS built a fence in Yuma. There, illegal traffic dropped 95 percent over nine years. Similar results have been achieved in other states.
Even some Democrats agree that we need a border fence. Rank-and-file Democrats are increasingly saying they support border security – including fences. This isn’t new or recent. In 2006, Democrats supported a border fence. Chuck Schumer and then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted to fund $52 billion for 700 miles of fencing. Now, $5.7 billion led them to shut down the government. They refused to negotiate and refused to deal with this national security crisis.
Now is the time for Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to come back to the negotiating table. This shutdown should have never happened, and we have to find a solution before February 15.