What Are Members of the House and Senate Saying About President Trump’s Address to the Nation?

January 9, 2019 by TWN Staff
What Are Members of the House and Senate Saying About President Trump’s Address to the Nation?
President Donald Trump speaks to the nation in a prime-time address from the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Carlos Barria/Getty Images/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

Statements issued after President Trump’s address to the nation:

Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) – “The real crises here are of Donald Trump’s own making: dedicated public servants missing paychecks; taxpayers denied critical government services; economic hardship for small businesses and low income Americans. Far from forcing this issue to protect the American people, he is seeking to protect his own ego and pander to his base. Tonight, from the Oval Office, President Trump fed the American people divisive and distorted rhetoric ignoring the reality that a wall is wasteful, ineffective, and impractical. There’s a clear consensus that border security is necessary through better technology and other resources. Let’s reopen the government and have a real conversation about comprehensive immigration reform. President Trump’s continued reliance on falsehoods and xenophobic anecdotes rather than fact are roadblocks to progress.”

Representative Brendan Boyle (PA-02) – “Here’s what the President didn’t tell the American people about the proposed border wall in his address: It would be incredibly expensive, most Americans don’t want it, and experts say it wouldn’t even help curb undocumented immigration or address the greatest threats at the border. The President needs to get his facts straight, put aside his erratic demands, stop abusing his office for political gain, and reopen the government immediately. He must stop holding federal employee paychecks and important government services hostage to his obsession with building the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.”

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) – “Hardworking families are hurting because of President Trump’s impulsive decision to shut down the government – farmers, airport security officials and workers at the Peoria Agriculture Lab are being used as pawns in a partisan fight they had nothing to do with. This is just plain wrong. For 18 days, the president has refused to sign bipartisan legislation to open the government and fund effective, fiscally responsible measures to secure our borders. While the White House has threatened to keep the government shut down for ‘years,’ I’ll work with anyone to end this reckless shutdown and honor our commitment to keep communities safe.”

Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications, Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46) – “We must get back to doing the work of the people. There are important issues that need to be addressed—and there will be tough debates over the next two years and strong ideas on both sides of the aisle. However, we can’t let every disagreement result in a shutdown of the government of the greatest country on Earth. The American people depend on the basic services the American government provides, and shutting down the government is simply reckless. Today, 800,000 federal employees are still going without pay, including the people who are keeping our country safe. We hope to have a real debate on the issues of the day, but in the meantime, we must re-open the government. This chaos does not make America great; it puts our nation in danger. Both parties and President Trump need to work together to break this impasse, find common ground, and get out of this mess.”

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) – “Much like the TV dramas that typically air during prime time, the President’s speech was fiction. The House and Senate have already worked in a bipartisan manner to reopen the government and secure our southern border; it’s President Trump who won’t take ‘yes’ for an answer. Instead of holding federal workers in Nevada and across the country hostage over five billion dollars for his border wall boondoggle, the President should use the billions in border security funding Congress has already given him and of which he’s barely spent a fraction. I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reopen the government and address the problems of our immigration system.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) – “President Trump continues to use false data to justify his wall and keep the government closed. The president knows the majority of drugs come across at legal ports of entry, not over unguarded spaces. He knows that illegal border crossings are at record lows, down 75 percent from 2000. Yet he continues to use these as reasons to build his wall.

“Democrats have long supported increased efforts on border security. We have supported more immigration court judges, policies to humanely hold immigrant families who arrive in our country and increased funding for humanitarian programs. President Trump mentioned all those tonight, and Democrats not only agree with those goals, we also voted for legislation to implement them.

“What Democrats don’t support is spending billions and billions of dollars on a wall that won’t help protect our country. It’s not realistic. It’s not necessary. And it’s not where we should focus our attention or resources.

“Democrats have repeatedly tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of my goals is to produce a new bipartisan immigration reform bill. It’s a very serious issue that demands action. But focusing exclusively on the president’s wall is not a solution.

“Let’s reopen the government, make sure our citizens are paid and safe, then sit down at the negotiating table and reach a responsible compromise on these very real challenges.”

Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) – “Tonight’s message from President Trump is an act of desperation, consistent with his way of operating since he started his campaign — by turning immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, into scapegoats.  President Trump forced the shutdown, and House and Senate Republicans are complicit. I voted to open government on the day I was sworn in. Senate Republicans and the President should take Speaker Pelosi’s lead and open the government immediately.

President Trump’s wall is an obsolete answer to a 21st Century challenge.  It’s immoral, ineffective and a waste of tax payers resources.  What we need is a solution for families who are living without a paycheck because of the Trump Shutdown.  

The effects of the prolonged shutdown are being felt across the country and will only worsen if the shutdown continues.  Small business owners are facing delays in securing loans from the Small Business Administration, TSA agents continue to work without pay, recipients of food stamps could soon see severe reductions in benefits and services, and the IRS may be unable to process tax refunds on-time.

On Day One of the 116th Congress, the House Democratic Majority passed a complete funding package with bipartisan support to re-open the government.  President Trump has the power to sign legislation to re-open the government and stop hurting our government as soon as the Senate passes this package.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) – “Tonight, President Trump peddled falsehoods to the American people live from the Oval Office, and made it clear he will continue to hold the health, safety, and wellbeing of millions of Americans hostage until he gets his way.

“Democrats are ready and willing to negotiate border security, but there is a difference of opinion on how best to do so and there is no reason to keep government shut down while those discussions continue. House Democrats have passed compromise bills to reopen government — Senate Republican legislation that enjoys bipartisan support — and I continue to urge Senator McConnell to take those bills up and the President to sign them to reopen government while we negotiate border security.

“It is shameful that the President would employ fear tactics and conjure a made-up crisis to further his political agenda. All Americans ought to be deeply concerned about this President’s approach and his grasp of facts. This shutdown, as President Trump has made clear from the beginning, is his own responsibility. This shutdown must end, and only President Trump has the power to end it.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) – “Donald Trump sounds like a broken record. He reverts to the same old script–demagoguery and xenophobia– because that’s all he knows how to do. The fact is that even the Department of Homeland Security says our Southern border, where the Trump administration wants to build a wall, is more difficult to cross without authorization today than ever before. Apprehensions are at the lowest rate ever.  And as much as he wants to paint a different picture, immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native born Americans. Furthermore, we know that the majority of drugs come in at legal points of entry – not where there is no wall. This has never been about security. It is simply political.

“President Trump is right: it is about right and wrong – and what he has done and continues to do is just wrong : separating families, shutting down legal asylum, imprisoning more and more people in immigration prisons.

“It is time for the president to give up on his vanity wall fantasy and allow us to focus on what matters: ending this shutdown. The American people are sick and tired of his border wall obsession. What they want is a stable economy, good healthcare, an end to a government shutdown that grows more harmful every day, and common sense reforms to our immigration system. This speech belongs in the dustbin – it is time to move on and get things done for our country.”

Representative Dan Kildee (MI-05) – “The President manufactured a crisis 18 days ago and plunged our country into a government shutdown. Tonight, the President proved he does not care about pulling us out of the mess he created. It is shameful that the President is using our nation’s public servants, including thousands of workers in Michigan, as pawns in a political game.

“Democrats support smart, effective border security and budget bills that immediately reopen government. The President should negotiate with Democrats, not pander to his political base.”

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) – “We’re still in the same position we’ve been in for a month – and I’ll keep saying the same thing: we can have border security and fund the government at the same time.

“This fight is not helping anybody – but it has left 800,000 federal workers in the lurch and threatens federal services millions more rely on. It’s time for the president and Congress to do our jobs and get the lights back on while also investing in effective border security measures that will keep us safe.”

Representative Gregory Meeks (NY-05) – “In my regular travel between New York and Washington D.C., I speak with TSA agents every week. Today was no different, except that today they worked with no pay as a result of Trump’s continued government shutdown. I expressed my sympathy for the hardship caused by Trump’s latest political publicity stunt, as he holds everyday Americans hostage in order to strong-arm Congress into funding a symbolic wall for a fabricated crisis.

“However, in manufacturing a threat he has created a real one. In leaving agencies like DHS understaffed, he is endangering national security in the name of upholding it.  As the Congressman representing one of the largest ports in our nation, JFK airport, I’m increasingly concerned by the growing number of TSA agents calling-out or resigning altogether because of the lack of pay. And, while boarding my plane today, I was well aware of the fact that FAA safety inspectors are considered non-essential staff and are therefore furloughed during the Trump shutdown.

“This shutdown is political, it is petty, and most importantly it is reckless. I will be proud to vote for bipartisan continuing resolutions throughout this week that will reopen our Government at current funding levels. I suggest that President Trump no longer use the safety of Americans as a bartering chip, sign these appropriation bills, and end this prolonged tantrum.”

Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) – “Let’s be very clear: The only ‘crisis’ at the southern border is the humanitarian crisis President Trump and his administration created by ripping babies away from their parents’ arms and locking up children. The solution to this shutdown is simple: Pass the Republican-written bills to fund the government that the House and Senate have already agreed upon. The path out of this shutdown has been the same since day one, and a misleading and misinformed speech does absolutely nothing to change the facts.”

Senator Chris Murphy (CT) – “We are now in the third week of the Trump shutdown and nothing the president said tonight gets us any closer to a solution. The Senate unanimously passed legislation before the holidays that would have funded the government through February to give us time to reach a long term agreement, but right after it passed President Trump revoked his prior support because he didn’t get the money for his stupid wall. My constituents back home in Connecticut shouldn’t have to wonder when they’re going to get their next paycheck or when they’re going back to work because the president isn’t getting his wall that no one on the border wants anyway. President Trump and Senate Republicans need to end this shutdown and open the government today.”

Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) – “Tonight, President Donald Trump again made it clear how proud he is to put his petulance and politics over legitimate policy and the lives of the American people.  His decision to single handedly shut down a significant part of our government in order to fulfill a campaign promise by building an expensive and ineffective wall at our southern border is irresponsible, unprincipled, and is actually hurting Americans.  Nearly 800,000 federal workers, including 39,000 in California, have been furloughed and may soon not get paychecks. Money for food stamps and federal housing may soon dry up. The ripple effect from this shut down will be felt far and beyond the people who rely on the federal government for employment and benefits, but also will be felt by every day Americans as some basic government services are stopped.  

“Despite the President proudly prolonging the partial government shut down, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to reopen our government.  Last week, Congress passed two bills to reopen government services, ensure workers get the paychecks they have earned, and restore certainty to the lives of the American people.  The bills also included provisions to provide back pay to federal employees. This week, Congress will vote on and pass legislation that will reopen the United States Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, so that our neighbor’s tax refunds arrive on time; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so families do not lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) lifeline and Central Coast farmers get the services and benefits they need; the U.S. Department of the Interior, so that Pinnacles National Park is open and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resume inspections of our drinking water systems, hazardous waste management, and chemical facilities; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to help keep families in their homes.

“I strongly believe in bolstering the security on our borders, not with solutions from the 4th century, but with technology and infrastructure from the 21st century.  Moreover, any discussion about border security must be coupled with immigration reform that takes into account the option for our Dreamers, farmworkers, and recipients of Temporary Protected Status to earn their citizenship.  However, such serious discussions take time, especially if done in a bipartisan manner. That is why we cannot prolong this shut down and we must open up the government immediately, get paychecks in people’s pockets, get over our party politics, and get serious about comprehensive immigration reform.”

Representative Chellie Pingree (ME-01) – “Nothing President Trump said tonight demonstrates that this wall is anything more than a monument to himself. It only serves to divide us and distract us from the important discussions we need to have about immigration reform, the treatment of those seeking asylum in our great country, and the best way to allocate resources to secure our nation from within and without.

“The real crisis we need to address is one of President Trump’s own making—a government shutdown that has now finished its 18th day. We have 800,000 federal workers worried about making ends meet, families wondering whether they will get help next month to put food on the table, and an American public losing faith in whether their government will be open for business on any given day.

“Last week, House Democrats gave the Senate and President what they need to reopen the government—passing a spending package with significant bipartisan consensus —and make way for a meaningful debate on immigration and border security.  This week we are doing it again. I urge the President to put the American people first and end his shutdown.”

Representative Tim Ryan (OH-13)“It was clear tonight that President Trump is only concerned with stoking fear in the American people. Devoid of any facts, the President continues to tout the lie that a wall is the only way to secure our border—it’s not. In an era of advanced surveillance technologies and capabilities, a wall is laughably outdated. It’s like saying we want Model T cars, glider planes, or rotary phones back. President Trump’s focus should be on reopening the government as hundreds of thousands of federal workers are facing the grim reality that they won’t be receiving a paycheck this week.”

Republican Whip Steve Scalise – “Tonight the President made clear his firm commitment to reopening the government while also securing our southern border.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have refused to negotiate. Nancy Pelosi actually joked last week that Congress should give just a single dollar to fund the wall. A single dollar. With criminals, drugs, and human trafficking pouring across our border each day, this is no time for jokes. We need action. President Trump called for all Americans to call Congress and ask for the money necessary to secure our border and reopen the government. I am also calling on Speaker Pelosi to get serious about this crisis and put an offer on the table that finally secures our border.

“17,000 people with prior criminal convictions were stopped last year trying to come across our southern border, and those are just the ones we actually caught. Additionally, according to Doctors Without Borders, more than 30% of women who make the journey to our southern border report being sexually assaulted along the way.

“As our country is reeling from an unprecedented opioid crisis claiming lives at record rates, 90% of the heroin flowing into the United States is coming across our southern border illegally.

“As President Trump outlined, we are in the midst of a humanitarian and national security crisis. These facts may not fit the narrative of Washington liberals, but they cannot be ignored. Republicans have acted to address this crisis. Last month, House Republicans passed a bill that both funded the government and provided the $5.7 billion that national security experts say is needed to secure our border. Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer have yet to put forward a single serious alternative to open our government and fund border security.

“Tonight the President made crystal clear that he is serious about solving this crisis. I am in strong agreement with the President that we need to secure our border. It’s long past time that Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer stop playing political games and work with us to finally secure our border and reopen the government.”

Representative Brad Schneider (IL-10) – “It is disappointing that President Trump chose to use his first Oval Office address to the nation to double down on his irresponsible demands for an ineffective border wall and prolong a damaging government shutdown.

“While both sides agree we must secure our borders and ports of entry, we have real disagreements about how to best achieve that goal. We can and should debate these issues, but there should be no argument on the urgency to re-open our government. The House has passed bipartisan legislation that would do just that. It is time for President Trump to do the responsible thing – stop holding our federal agencies and the livelihood of more than 800,000 Americans hostage, and end his government shutdown.

“When our government re-opens, I look forward to a robust debate on how to best secure our border that is guided by facts on the ground and the insight of our law enforcement professionals.”


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