Sen. Shelby call for end of government shutdown

Published 3:00 am Friday, January 25, 2019

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, spoke on the Senate floor Thursday, voicing his support of the “End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act.

“Just a few months ago, we stood here on the Senate floor celebrating the progress we had made together in the appropriations process,” Shelby said. “We were all tired of lurching from crisis to crisis amid partisan bickering.  Both sides resolved to put aside partisan differences and work together for the good of the American people.  And it worked.

“Together, we funded 75 percent of the government on time.  While we would have preferred 100 percent, it was considerably more progress than we had made in decades. Yet we find ourselves here today, more than a month into the longest shutdown in American history.  It is enough to give you whiplash. Funding the remaining 25 percent of government is the task before us.  Homeland Security – border security – is the linchpin.”

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The Senate ultimately rejected the Republican plan, which would have reopened the government through September and give Trump the $5.7 billion he’s demanded for building segments of that wall, a project that he’d long promised Mexico would finance. The 50-47 vote for the measure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.

Shelby said before the vote that Democrats had previously supported funding for “a physical barrier at the nation’s southern border.”

“Last May, the Appropriations Committee considered the fiscal year 2019 Homeland Security bill,” Shelby said. “That bill included money for a physical barrier at the Southern border.  In fact, it included an increase in funding over the fiscal year 2018 level for a physical barrier. Our Democratic colleagues made no attempt to strike this funding, just as Republicans made no effort to strike funding for Democratic priorities in the bill.

“And the bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: a vote of 26 to 5.  There were no fireworks or histrionics in the hearing room that day … Madam President, it boggles the mind how we have returned so quickly to standoff mode – to a zero-sum mentality after making so much progress together.”

The Senate also rejected a Democratic proposal Thursday to end the government shutdown.

Minutes after the Republican proposal failed, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open padlocked agencies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. It was aimed at giving bargainers time to seek an accord while getting paychecks to government workers who are either working without pay or being forced to stay home.

Shelby said that Democrats need to further compromise with Republicans to end the shutdown for now.

“If this proposal is unacceptable, I ask my colleagues on the other side to put something on the table that could help move us off the dime,” Shelby said. “Work with us – propose a comprehensive solution to get us moving in the right direction.  But simply saying no – demanding that we deal with border security later just won’t do. If not now, when?  When will be the time to secure the border?  What good will more time, more talking do?

“Let’s come together, put the bitterness behind us, and do what is right for the American people: end the shutdown and secure the border.”