WASHINGTON – The top two Democrats in Congress blasted President Donald Trump’s contention in his Tuesday evening prime time address that a $5.7 billion wall is necessary to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
“President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The President has chosen fear,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said.
Pelosi explained: “We all agree that we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values; we can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry; we can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation; we can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border; and we can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took issue with the symbolism of a wall.
“The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall,” he said.
Schumer added: “So our suggestion is a simple one: Mr. President: re-open the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now.”
Pelosi and Schumer have offered $1.3 billion for border security as a counteroffer to the wall. The administration has repeatedly refused.
The speech comes on Day 18 of a partial government shutdown.
Trump has said he is willing to allow the shutdown to continue until an agreement on the wall is reached.
Trump has said he has not ruled out the possibility of declaring a national emergency to build the wall however he did not make reference to that during the speech.
Trump instead implored Congress to fund the wall. He cited drug trafficking and crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as the impetus for action.
Trump is scheduled to travel to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to attend the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon. A meeting with bipartisan congressional leaders is scheduled to take place at the White House later in the afternoon.
Last week the newly installed Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed a series of stop-gap measures to reopen the government. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to take up the measure.
Senate Democrats have since resorted to blocking any legislation not related to reopening the government.