Sen. Graham: 'The Real Damage Is a Broken Border,' Not a Partial Shutdown

By Susan Jones | January 14, 2019 | 5:24 AM EST

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - Amid predictions that the partial government funding lapse could extend into February, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he's "depressed" because he sees no possibility of a deal that would be acceptable to the White House.

"What are we supposed to do? Just give in?" Graham asked during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Speaking of President Trump, Graham said, "He's not going to give in."


Host Chris Wallace asked Graham how much damage it would do if the partial shutdown goes on "for weeks."

"Less damage than if we don't fix a broken immigration system," Graham said.

You've got two bad choices here. Continue to stalemate and see parts of the government shut down. It will be inconvenient and it can create problems. And to the federal work force, I'm sorry you're caught up in this mess.

But the real damage is people coming across the border, selling drugs, killing Americans -- that needs to come to an end. So, the real damage is a broken border compared to a partial shutdown.

The president is not going to give in. No wall, no deal, but he's ready to deal.

Graham said Trump is firm about making a deal first, then re-opening those parts of the government that have run out of money.

"Nancy Pelosi says, even if you open up the government, I wouldn't fund a wall. So that's why I'm depressed. You know, there's not much talk about what she said. She's telling the president, even if you open up the government, I'm not going to do a deal on the wall. And that's a nonstarter for the president."

Graham said he believes a deal could be done if only Democrats would agree to negotiate. He said a deal could include funding for a wall plus relief for Dreamers and people with temporary protected status (TPS).


"The plan is to do a deal," Graham said. "He (Trump) is willing, in my view, to do wall-plus. Funding for the wall that we desperately need that's been done in the past. See if we can do a deal around the TPS recipients who are going to lose their legal status."

Graham said some 400,000 people in the U.S. have temporary protected status.

"They are going to lose their legal status soon. He's willing to extend that. The DACA recipients, they are all tied up in court, but I think he would give them work permits for three years, one-time renewable if you could get wall funding.

"I don't want to speak for the president," Graham continued. "I don't want to lock him in, but I'm confident what I just described with a few other things would be a deal acceptable to the White House. And a lot of Democrats -- and I'm just so frustrated -- we can't get in a room and hammer it out."

Graham said he's told the president he will support him if he decides to declare a national emergency to get funding for his border wall.

But Graham said the president prefers the legislative route, and considers an emergency declaration the "last option."

"I am going to support him," Graham said. "Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we are almost there, I would urge them to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can't at the end of three weeks, all bets are off, see if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers. That's my recommendation.

"But I think the legislative path is just about shut off because Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House, said even if you open up the government, I will give you one dollar for the wall. As long as that's the case, we are never going to get a legislative package no matter what the Senate does."

Graham said he believes the crisis at the border fits the definition of a national emergency. He said declaring a national emergency is the "last option," but it's close to being "the only option."

"How do you negotiate with the speaker of the House when she tells you even if you open up the government are not going to give you but one dollar for the wall? So, until that changes, there's not much left except the national emergency approach.

"And to my Republican colleagues: Stand behind the president as this is his last option. He ran on this as a centerpiece of his presidency, and it is a crisis. And if you don't see the crisis, you are not looking very hard."

On a snowy weekend in Washington, President Trump issued a flurry of tweets, many on the impasse over the border wall. Many Democrats, meanwhile, were on a retreat in Puerto Rico.

Here are some of Trump's Sunday tweets:

-- The damage done to our Country from a badly broken Border - Drugs, Crime and so much that is bad - is far greater than a Shutdown, which the Dems can easily fix as soon as they come back to Washington!

-- I’m in the White House, waiting. The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talking! (Democrats were on a retreat in Puerto Rico.)

-- The building of the Wall on the Southern Border will bring down the crime rate throughout the entire Country!

-- Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks. Many Hispanics will be coming over to the Republican side, watch!

President Trump added more tweets on Monday morning:

-- I’ve been waiting all weekend. Democrats must get to work now. Border must be secured!

-- Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!

-- “Dems in Puerto Rico as Shutdown hits day 24.” @foxandfriends

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