In an earnest speech Tuesday night, President Donald Trump was quick to blame congressional Democrats for prolonging a record-breaking government shutdown by refusing to fund a $5.7 billion “physical barrier” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security,” Trump said.
The president also accused Democrats, specifically Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of changing their position on a physical barrier once Trump was elected president.
“Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis, and they have refused to provide our bright and brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation,” Trump said.
Although GOP representatives from Illinois called for Democrats to end the shutdown after Trump’s speech, the state’s Democrats assessed the president’s remarks as “shameless” and “desperate.”
During a radio appearance Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said Democrats are too “far left” to be in support of a border wall, which is what is causing the shutdown.
He said government shutdowns are the “stupidest things ever” and weren’t always a big deal, but they now are being used as weapons.
“That said, I think, now to turn around and just give into the Democrats’ demand that there is no border security would be ludicrous,” Kinzinger said. “I think it’s going to be a compromise solution. I think everybody wants a compromise, but that’s going to include some form of the wall, and until they get that straight, they’re hurting these government workers and the American public – they being the Democrats.”
Democratic leaders recently offered $1.3 billion for border security. U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said that money would have gone toward more border security, drones, fencing and resources to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Other Democratic lawmakers called into question some of the benefits Trump has said a wall would provide, including billions of dollars in savings.
In a tweet Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, questioned a perceived lack of facts in Trump’s speech.
“As a scientist, I look for facts when I make policy decisions,” Foster said. “I didn’t see or hear any tonight to justify this wasteful idea.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois’ 1st Congressional District tweeted that Trump’s speech was one of shameless fear-mongering and lies.
Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Illinois’ 18th Congressional District agreed with Trump’s rhetoric that there is a humanitarian crisis at the southern border and said via social media that it is incumbent on Congress to come together and provide a solution.
“For years, Democrats have supported increases in border security, but instead of coming to the table to work together on a solution, [House] Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen to play political games ahead of national security to please the most extreme corners of her base,” LaHood said.
In a media statement, Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois’ 17th Congressional District put the blame on Trump for the partisan standoff.
“While the White House has threatened to keep the government shut down for years, I’ll work with anyone to end this reckless shutdown and honor our commitment to keep communities safe,” Bustos said.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District said he will continue to vote to end the government shutdown.
“The stories we are hearing from people whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the shutdown are heartbreaking,” Casten said. “Even worse, they are frightening because there are people whose jobs are focused on keeping us safe – like air traffic controllers – and their work and our safety are being jeopardized by the shutdown.”