Pennsylvania politicians react to Trump's national border security address
President Trump’s nationally televised address on border security Tuesday night called on Congress to approve his plan to build a $5.7 billion steel wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and put an end to the second-longest U.S. government shutdown.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security,” Trump said during the roughly nine-minute speech.
Trump blamed Democrats for the shutdown that began affecting about one-quarter of federal offices Dec. 22. If the shutdown continues, about 800,000 federal employees nationwide won’t receive paychecks on Friday. In addition, some offices, museums and national parks would close, and payments to contractors would stop while “essential” and emergency services continue to operate.
“This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting,” Trump said. “I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security.”
In a brief rebuttal, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered up a different solution: “Separate the shutdown from arguments over border security.”
“Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes,” Schumer, D-NY, said. “This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of taking federal employees and public services “hostage” and said Democrats and Republicans both want to improve border security. She said, instead of Trump’s proposed border wall, more federal money should be pumped into hiring more immigration personnel and improving technology and drug detection resources at points of entry, which is where the bulk of illegal drugs like heroin make their way into the United States.
Here’s a roundup of what officials in Pennsylvania had to say about President Trump’s border fence remarks:
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters
“I stand with President Trump in demanding a bipartisan funding package that secures the southern border to stem the tide of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and deadly drugs from entering our country,” Reschenthaler said. “This shutdown never should have happened. It is unfortunate that Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and congressional Democrats are more concerned with keeping an open border than an open government.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills
“President Trump repeated the same fear-mongering talking points and exaggerated, misleading half-truths that he’s pitched over and over again since the beginning of his campaign. Most Americans aren’t buying it,” Doyle said. “Everybody knows that our immigration system is broken and ought to be fixed — and I certainly support smart, effective improvements in our nation’s border security — but the shutdown should end now. Once we’ve got the government up and running again … we can work as long as it takes to find common ground on improving border security.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley
"Tonight, we heard a clear case for boosting security and humanitarian aid funding at our southern border. I support these objectives, provided taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively," Toomey said.
"President Trump has invited Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer and others to the White House tomorrow to try and end this partial government shutdown. At that meeting, I hope an agreement is reached for the sake of hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families, who are in jeopardy of missing their next paycheck. There is a deal to be made given that Democrats repeatedly supported billions in funding to maintain and expand the existing 350 miles of security fencing along the southern border prior to President Trump's election."
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon
"Nothing has changed, there was no new information in these speeches. We know that hundreds of thousands of workers will miss a paycheck on Friday if we don't reopen the government. And we know the solution," Lamb said.
"We need to reopen the government while we come to a bipartisan agreement on border security. The House and Senate have both already passed bipartisan bills to do that. In the House we are not giving up: I will continue to vote for these bills, along with my Democratic and Republican colleagues, for as long as it takes to reopen the government."
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler
“To be very clear: there is nothing controversial about enhancing our security by building a border wall — there are currently 700 miles of border barrier already in place along our southern border. As a candidate, President Trump passionately campaigned on this issue and won,” Kelly said.
“As the president emphasized, the ongoing partial government shutdown is totally unnecessary and can be ended tomorrow.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton
“A concrete or steel wall is not border security. Instead of continuing his shutdown, President Trump should commit to signing the Republican bills passed by the Democratic House that would reopen the government and secure the border with over $1 billion in funding,” Casey said.
“Once the government is reopened, Congress should have a substantial debate on how to fix our broken system and begin work on legislation that mirrors the bipartisan 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill. That legislation passed with 68 votes in the Senate and provided $40 billion in funding for border security. It also provided order, rules and certainty for individuals and businesses and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants .”
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio
“While we want to encourage legal immigration to our great country, a comprehensive solution is needed to end the plethora of ills stemming from our porous southern border. Lawmakers cannot afford to do nothing on this issue at this critical juncture.” DiGiorgio said. “… Democrats have shown that they hate Donald Trump more than they love America.”
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, email@example.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.