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 re-open the government:
“For weeks, I’ve stated that I wouldn’t let the Senate become a theater for show votes and messaging stunts from either side. We’d only vote on plans that stood an actual chance of being signed by the president and thus becoming law.
“So I was glad to see today the president’s announcement that he and Democrats have reached an agreement that will immediately re-open the government, while providing the room to negotiate a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Further, negotiations on DHS will be prioritized over consideration of any other funding bills. And with cooperation, we can pass legislation opening the government and send the DHS appropriations bill to a conference with the House today.
“I’m glad the closed portions of the federal government will re-open and get back online. I’m glad that the dedicated men and women of the Coast Guard, law enforcement, the TSA, and all the other federal employees will not have to go longer without pay for their work, and will receive their back pay. I know the pain that this episode has caused to many Kentuckians and to people around the country. They deserve this resolution.
“Going forward, I hope Democrats will stay true to the commitment they have stated constantly over the past weeks – that once government was re-opened, they would be perfectly willing to negotiate in good faith on full-year government funding that would include a significant investment in urgently needed border security measures, including physical barriers.
“After all, the only way that federal workers are going to have stability and certainty beyond the next three weeks, the only way our border is going to have real security, is if Democrats will stop playing partisan games and get serious about negotiating with the president on a long-term compromise. The days ahead will tell us whether my Democratic colleagues are actually serious about securing our nation; whether they actually mean what they say. The president called on the Senate to act on these proposals, and now that there is an agreement between Democrats and the White House, we can make that happen.”
Related: President Trump Threatens with Emergency Measure
While the Senate Majority Leader spoke about the temporary reopening of government, the Democratic Speaker of the House (Nancy Peolosi; D-NY) was surprisingly quiet. Although she has weighed in on social media, her office has yet to release a statement at the time of this posting. However, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) did release the following statement on President Trump and Republicans’ decision to temporarily reopen the federal government after 35 days of the Trump Shutdown:
“The solution to the Trump Shutdown has always been simple: reopen the government, pay federal employees, and then begin a period of constructive negotiations on border security. It is sad that it took 35 days of inflicting pain and misery on Americans for President Trump and Republicans to come to their senses and agree to this solution, but it is better late than never.
“After Congress passes this legislation and President Trump signs it, I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle and across the Capitol in conference negotiations to craft a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that provides smart, effective solutions for border security while staying true to our values as Americans.”
The big question is, will this reopening only be temporary? Is it just designed to pay some bills and calming the anger of the hundreds of thousands of federal government employees that have been unpaid for weeks? This reopening is only for three weeks. That was a compromise between the Congress and the White House to get things temporarily open. However, President Trump has made it clear that unless he gets $5 billion for his wall, we will be in the exact same situation again. The President is now considering declaring a national emergency as a way to fund his wall and keep the government open. NBC is reporting that the White House has found $7 billion that he can use towards that effort. However, both Democrats and Republican members of Congress have expressed concerns about such a suggestion.
In a speech this afternoon, President Trump said “So let me be very clear: We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency. We will have great security.”
At this point, the current reopening has to be seen as merely temporary.