With the partial government shutdown on its 35th day, President Donald Trump said from the White House Friday afternoon, “We have reached a deal.” The deal the president announced reopens the government until Feb. 15, provides a reprieve to federal workers who haven’t been paid in nearly a month, and provides an avenue to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security and a border wall.
For the 8,000 federal employees in North Carolina, this is good news. I’m glad the loyal men and women of the Coast Guard, TSA agents, FAA air traffic controllers, border agents and many more federal workers will be paid and will receive their back pay as soon as possible.
As Congress debates a long-term solution, I will continue to focus on securing our border first. Criminals and terrorists continue to exploit serious vulnerabilities along our porous border. In fiscal year 2018, 17,000 adults at the border with existing criminal records were arrested. In that same time period, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents saved more than 900 children from human trafficking and sexual assault. And they seized 2,370 pounds of fentanyl the year before – that’s enough to kill every American citizen by overdose.
It is my hope that over the next three weeks, Congressional Democrats will finally come to the table to negotiate seriously on a bipartisan deal to fund the government and solve the crisis at our southern border. The president has given them several opportunities and tried time and time again to compromise. But at every turn, my Democrat colleagues and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have so far been unwilling to even come to the negotiating table. When the president presented a bipartisan proposal to end the shutdown on Jan. 19, Democrat leaders rejected it before the details had even been announced.
For weeks, Democrats have said they’ll negotiate on funding to build a wall and secure our border once the government is reopened. The president is giving them yet another opportunity to show up and negotiate. I hope Congressional Democrats will keep their word and finally get serious about negotiating a bipartisan deal.
The president made this offer in good faith, and there’s real opportunity to move forward in a bipartisan way. Each day, more of my Democrat colleagues are breaking from their party leadership to urge Speaker Pelosi to negotiate with Republicans and provide the funding desperately needed for border security. Several have publicly called on her to submit a serious counteroffer to President Trump’s proposal, because that’s how compromises work. You reach a solution with someone you disagree with by negotiating and making concessions for the greater good — not refusing to negotiate. As one Democrat said recently, “Not negotiating is not a good strategy.”
Let’s get one thing clear: this is a temporary Band-Aid — not a long-term solution. I am disappointed this short-term measure doesn’t include any of the necessary funding for improved border security. I remain committed to getting the resources we need to secure our border and keep you and your family safe. Americans on both sides of the aisle agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system and secure our border. It’s time for Washington to get it done.
Richard Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.