(CNSNews.com) - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) went to the Senate floor on Saturday and delivered an ultimatum to President Donald Trump: Abandon your request for money to fund a border wall or the government will stay shut, period.
Schumer declared that funding for a wall will “never” pass the Senate. Not long after Schumer delivered this speech, the Senate left town until next Thursday—or two days after Christmas.
In fact, the entire federal government will not be shut down even for a short time. Only an estimated 25 percent of the federal government is subject to the current shutdown. The funding for the rest of the government—including the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services—have already been funded for all of fiscal 2019 in legislation signed by President Trump this fall.
“Everyone knew yesterday, long before the House vote, that the President’s wall lacked 60 votes in the Senate. It has proven to lack even 50 votes,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Saturday.
“It will never pass the Senate—not today, not next week, not next year,” Schumer said.
“So, President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple,” Schumer said. “The Senate is not interested in swindling American taxpayers for an unnecessary, ineffective, and wasteful policy.”
Last week, the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the 25 percent of the government that is not yet funded and to provided $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall. Senate Democrats opposed that bill and the Senate did not vote on it.
Mr. President, at midnight last night, roughly 25 percent of the government shut down because of one person and one person alone: President Trump. We arrived at this moment because President Trump has been on a destructive 2-week temper tantrum, demanding the American taxpayer pony up for an expensive and ineffective border wall that the President promised Mexico would pay for.
Make no mistake. The Trump shutdown is not about border security. All of the proposals we have made contain over $1 billion in new border security money, the same amount allocated last year by both parties and even the President agreed to. The Trump administration has barely even spent any of the border security money from last year. So the Trump shutdown isn’t over border security; it is because President Trump is demanding billions of dollars for an expensive, ineffective wall the majority of Americans don’t support.
Let me remind you, the President called for a shutdown no less than 25 times. He has wanted one for months. In our meeting in the Oval Office, President Trump said he would be “proud” to shut the government down. Imagine saying he would be proud to shut the government down. Even Rush Limbaugh, one of the biggest supporters of the President, said it was a Trump shutdown; that he caused it. He said—this is Limbaugh speaking: “The President wants you to know it’s money [for the wall] or nothing, and if it’s nothing, he shuts it down.”
Just 2 days ago, the Senate unanimously agreed to a proposal by Leader MCCONNELL to keep the government open through February. It wasn’t exactly what Democrats wanted—we thought it should be longer—but we agreed because we wanted to keep the government open, and all indications were that the President would sign the bill, but President Trump—beholden to the far, far right, unwilling to shoulder even the slightest critique from Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham—changed his mind on the bipartisan Senate bill, passed unanimously by all Republicans and all Democrats in this Chamber, and he sent his House allies off to tilt at windmills.
Everyone knew yesterday, long before the House vote, that the President’s wall lacked 60 votes in the Senate. It has proven to lack even 50 votes. It will never pass the Senate—not today, not next week, not next year.
So President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple. The Senate is not interested in swindling American taxpayers for an unnecessary, ineffective, and wasteful policy.
What we do support, Democrats and Republicans, is real, effective border security—but not a wall. The wall is President Trump’s bone to the hard right people. It is no way to spend $5 billion, for a political bone.
I have heard the President and his allies in the media say Democrats don’t support border security. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Democrats have always been for smart and effective ways to secure our border. We are pushing for technology, like drones and sensors and inspection equipment. Every single proposal we made to the President included $1.3 billion for border security.
The Trump shutdown provides zero dollars for border security, but I have never supported a border wall, and I challenge anyone on the hard right to find a time that I—or any expert—has supported a wall like what the President has proposed.
So where do we go from here? Well, three proposals are on the table, two by Democrats—Leader PELOSI and I—one by Leader MCCONNELL, each of which would reopen the government and provide $1.3 billion in border security.
We are also open to discussing any proposals with the President as long as they don’t include funding for the wall, but in order for an agreement to be reached, all four congressional leaders must sign off and the President must endorse it and say he will sign it. Leader MCCONNELL must agree. Speaker RYAN must agree. They cannot duck responsibility.
Leader MCCONNELL still controls this Chamber. Speaker RYAN controls what reaches the floor of the House. They are essential to this process.
Leader MCCONNELL can’t duck out of it. He knows that. Of course, Leader PELOSI and I must agree. Most importantly, the President must publicly support and say he will sign an agreement before it gets a vote in either Chamber. We don’t want to go through what we went through a few days ago.
Both Leader MCCONNELL and I have agreed on that qualification for a specific reason. Repeatedly, the President has privately agreed to a deal with congressional leaders, only to reverse himself when criticized by the far right. We can’t have another situation when the President signals support at first but then reverses himself, which is precisely what caused this shutdown in the first place.
If Leader MCCONNELL, Speaker RYAN, Leader PELOSI, and I agree on a solution, and the President says he will sign it, we can end the Trump shutdown immediately. Discussions continue among the members of our staffs. The Republican Leader and I will update the Senate on the status of those talks once progress has been made.
I yield the floor.