On Saturday, President Donald Trump offered a proposal to end the federal government shutdown by promising three years of amnesty for some illegal aliens in exchange for $5.7 billion in wall funding along the southern U.S. border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he planned to bring the proposal to a Senate vote this week.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., originally declined to comment on the latest proposal although he did share thoughts in a midweek interview with Talk Business & Politics on the government shutdown. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said the president’s proposal was promising, but he wanted more specifics.
“We would like to move forward and the President’s proposal appears to be reasonable, but I need to read the actual bill, rather than an outline, before committing,” Boozman said in a statement to Talk Business & Politics on Saturday (Jan. 19).
On Sunday afternoon (Jan. 20), Sen. Cotton sent a response to Trump’s proposal. “I agree with Senator Boozman, we need to read the bill, not just an outline, before taking a position.”
Trump proposed on Saturday a three-year moratorium on deportations of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and for immigrants currently in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status in exchange for $5.7 billion in wall funding and re-opening the federal government, now partially closed for nearly a month.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the proposal was a “non-starter,” a compilation of previous proposals, and one that would not pass the House. Other Democratic leaders complained that the federal government should be re-opened before a discussion on border security and immigration reform should be considered.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was the only member of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation to issue a statement on the president’s request. In a tweet, Womack said:
“Today, President Trump outlined a commonsense and bipartisan proposal that reopens the government, strengthens border security, addresses the humanitarian crisis on the border, and creates opportunities to fully reform our broken immigration system. By incorporating the priorities of both sides, the Administration has put forth a workable solution that strikes a fair balance. Rejecting this compromise would be to show that political obstructionism is more important than governing. It’s time for my Democratic colleagues to come to the table and do what is right for our national security, federal workers, and all Americans.”
THE SHUTDOWN CONTINUES
Cotton was a guest earlier in the week on Talk Business & Politics where he discussed the federal government shutdown ahead of Trump’s weekend proposal.
“The problem we have is that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer won’t sit down with the president to negotiate that kind of compromised solution,” Cotton said in his midweek interview on why the Senate won’t pass bills it passed before Christmas that only had $1.3 billion in wall funding in it. McConnell has said he won’t bring that bill back up for a new vote despite the newly-seated House passing similar legislation.
When pressed about the agreement that was worked out before Christmas between Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers to keep the government open, Cotton said the change to Democratic control in the House led to a new dynamic.
“We’ve had change since December and that change is Nancy Pelosi is now the Speaker of the House. She has explicitly said that even if the president accepted those kind of proposals, and reopen the departments that have been closed, she still would not budge on the wall. Remember, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the past have voted for hundreds of miles of wall. Much more than what the president is asking for now. We are in divided government,” Cotton said.
“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are going to have to sit down with the president, whether they like him or not, to try to reach some kind of compromise solution. I’d like to see those departments reopened as soon as possible, but I also want to see our border secure and I think that’s what most Arkansans want as well,” he added. “Frankly, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer seem to be more focused on giving the president a political defeat than they are on securing our southern border, and addressing the crisis that we face with so many migrant families trying to cross our border.”
You can watch Cotton’s full interview below.