Sen. Richard Shelby: ‘We’ve Got to Move Away from the Blame Game’

By Melanie Arter | January 2, 2019 | 3:29pm EST
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) (Screenshot)

( – In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Congress has to stop playing “the blame game” and get on with the business of “serious negotiations.”

“Our negotiations are at an impasse at the moment. I wish it were not so, but we've got to move away from the blame game. Blaming the president, blaming the Democrats, Pelosi and Schumer and others, and get back to doing what we're sent there to do, to fund the government. That's been my mandate.


“That's what we've been working hard this year in a bipartisan way on the Appropriations Committee. Senator Leahy, the senator from Vermont, he is the ranking Democrat on the committee. I believe if people would help us along, would do what we did with the seventy-five percent that we've funded to the government fund it all, the sooner the better,” Shelby said.

When asked why the Democrats’ offer to continue current levels of $1.3 billion in border security wasn’t enough, Shelby said, “Well, the president wants more. I tried to work a deal earlier on where he would get $2.5 billion this year and $2.5 next year, try to have a compromise. That didn't work out.

“I do believe that the president would like to work to get to yes. I think Senator Schumer, who I worked with for years, would like to fund the government. It's a question when do we get off the blame game and we get to serious negotiations. At the end of the day, all of this will end,” Shelby continued.

“We don't know when. In negotiations, it's not a question of who wins or loses. Nobody's going to win this kind of game. Nobody wins in a shutdown. We all lose and we kind of look silly,” he added.


“The president set off some tweets this weekend, specifically. blaming Democrats for the deaths of children or others at the border. He said they're ‘strictly the fault of the Democrats.’ Do you agree with the president and what does language like that do to the negotiation you say you're trying to get going?” host Margaret Brennan asked.

“Well, whether it's the president tweeting and blaming somebody or blaming the Democrats or whether it's the Democrats blaming the president. It's brought us to the impasse that we are today,” Shelby said.

“I found out long ago working in the Senate on the Appropriations Committee, that we've got to find out what do the Democrats really want here, when do they want it, and can we work with them to at least meet them halfway. I believe the president does not want a shutdown,” the senator said.

“He wants to secure the borders, which he should, and we should help him do that, but there are a lot of ways to do it. Sometimes names get in the way of good work,” he said.

When asked whether Senate Republicans will send any kind of bill to Trump’s desk that doesn’t include wall funding, Shelby said, “I think Senator McConnell, our leader, has already addressed that. That said that he would not even take up the bill until he found some compromise that the president would agree to sign. So we're going to be at an impasse. That would be probably an empty gesture, but that goes on in Washington every day.”


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