Democratic leaders continued to make the argument on Wednesday that the shutdown is President Donald Trump’s fault while surrounded by furloughed workers who are feeling the impact.
“To use them as hostages through a temper tantrum by the president is just so wrong, so unfair, so mean-spirited,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“It ought to end and it ought to end now. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are furloughed and hundreds of thousands more are working without pay.”
The federal government has been partially shut down over a border security dispute since December 22.
Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have repeatedly argued the president is to blame.
They echoed that point again while surrounding themselves with about a dozen impacted federal workers.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 9, 2019
“The people behind me represent the real human collateral damage of President Trump’s temper tantrum. The president talks all the time about using this shutdown to make out border secure. But the dark irony is, he is forcing TSA agents CBP officers and prison guards to work without pay. Tell me how that makes America more secure.”
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Trump has stood his ground when it comes to getting border wall funding by threatening to veto spending bills until he gets it.
Democratic leaders have fought against providing any funding. The stalemate resulted in the shutdown and there has been little sign either side is about to relent.
The federal workers are more than likely to get paid when the government reopens. Those having to work without compensation are guaranteed their back pay once it is over.
Lawmakers usually pass legislation around a shutdown, which also provides back pay to furloughed workers. There is already pending legislation to do just that this time around.
Trump gave a rare address about the crisis along the southern border and shutdown on Tuesday night. He echoed many of the same points he already made, but it was also significant that he did so in his first Oval Office address. Pelosi and Schumer accused him of using fear tactics and misinformation in their rebuttal afterward.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only,” Trump said during the address. “Because Democrats will not fund border security. My administration is doing everything in its power to help those impacted by this situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.”
Pelosi and Schumer were both criticized on social media following their response to the president. Many people poked fun of their serious tone and even described them as looking like disappointed parents. Some people even compared them standing side-by-side to the famous painting, “American Gothic,” by Grant Wood.
“We all want border security,” Schumer also said Wednesday while surrounded by furloughed workers. “There are different views on how to get there. But to hold these people hostage instead of letting them do their jobs, which they want to do, while we work out of differences, is so wrong.”
Trump has long promised to build a security wall along the southern border and is fighting to get $5.7 billion to do just that. Schumer and Pelosi have been at the forefront of opposing that plan. Schumer has only offered to provide $1.3 billion that can’t go to the border wall.
Trump and congressional leaders from both parties have continued discussions to overcome the stalemate.
They held numerous meetings in recent weeks and launched a task force over the weekend to resolve the issue as well. But despite these regular meetings and efforts, the two sides have been unable to overcome the impasse.
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