Blumenthal: ‘The wall is dead’
HARTFORD — The federal government is scheduled to shut down on midnight Friday if Congress can’t reach a deal on the part of the federal budget that funds about one-quarter of the government.
Negotiations on a deal began at the end of January following a 35 day shutdown that seems to hinge on $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border.
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are optimistic their colleagues will be able to broker a deal if Republican President Donald Trump doesn’t say or tweet something to mess it up.
That’s what Connecticut’s two Senators said before heading back to Washington, D.C.
“There is an agreement to be had to avoid a shutdown, if the president permits it to happen,” Blumenthal said at a Legislative Office Building press conference. “Interference by the president is the main threat to these talks.”
Trump will hold a campaign-style rally for supporters in the border city of El Paso, Texas, Monday to once again make his case for building a barrier.
“We just have one big, giant, hulking wild card in these budget negotiations and that’s the president of the United States,” Murphy said.
He said if the president leaves Congress alone to reach a deal, there will be a deal.
He said Senate Democrats are willing to spend up to $2 billion on border improvements, including drones, sensors, and immigration judges, but no wall.
Murphy said the Democrats have already compromised and are not going to agree to “a Medieval border wall the public has already roundly rejected as a solution to our immigration problems.”
Blumenthal added: “The wall is dead. It isn’t going to happen.”
As for a continuing resolution if a deal isn’t reached?
Murphy said he’s not ruling it out, but “I’d be reluctant” to vote for another continuing resolution.
He said the politics and the policy aren’t going to change with the passage of time.
Republicans may have been willing to let Trump make his case during the first shutdown, but “they are much less willing to go along with him for a second shutdown,” Murphy said. “... I don’t think [Senator Mitch] McConnell is going let Trump drive the country off a cliff the second time,” Murphy added.
The dispute is still over about one-quarter of the budget that hasn’t been authorized yet by Connecticut. Funding for the entire budget will expire on Sept. 31 and Murphy said Congress needs to get a grip and rethink its budget process.
The one-quarter of the budget includes funding for agencies in charge of enforcing criminal law, immigration, and airport security.