Schumer Floor Remarks On Appropriations For FY 2019 And President Trump’s Responsibility To Avoid A Partial Government Shutdown

November 29, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor (at approximately 3:30 PM) regarding appropriations for fiscal year 2019 and President Trump’s responsibility to avoid a partial government shutdown. Below are his remarks,  which can also be viewed here:

Next Friday, appropriations expire for seven of the twelve appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019, and we are in good faith negotiations with our Republican counterparts here in Congress to get them enacted. The good news is because of the bipartisan work in the Senate, approximately seventy-five percent of the federal government is funded for 2019. The bad news is that seven bipartisan appropriations bills are hanging in the balance for one reason and one reason only – President Trump.

President Trump has said that he wants to shut down the government unless he gets $5 billion from the American taxpayer for an unnecessary border wall.

The president hasn’t even tried to get Mexico to pay for it, as he promised in his campaign, over and over and over. He hasn’t outlined a plan to deal with eminent domain concerns or even a plan as to how it would be built. And he hasn’t even spent the $1.3 billion Congress allocated last year, in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, for border security – fences, drones, and technology that actually makes sense. Now he’s asking, having not spent that money, for more!

So this isn’t actually about border security, this is the president trying to manufacture a shutdown to fire up his base.

Make no mistake: the president is the only person who holds the ultimate responsibility for a government shutdown. He can decide if we’re going to have one or not have one. He certainly has the power to shut down the government, but he has two very reasonable ways to avoid one.

First, he could agree to sign the bipartisan DHS appropriations bill that Senate Democrats and Republicans already agreed to, which includes $1.6 billion for border security, on top of the $1.3 billion that President Trump still hasn’t spent from last year. It’s just what we’ve done in previous years – funding for fencing on the border where experts say it makes the most sense. It would protect our border far more effectively and far more quickly than any wall.

Leader McConnell voted for that bill. Chairman Shelby voted for it, as did Senator Rubio. Even Senator Graham, the president’s strongest supporter and closest ally in the Senate voted for that bill. All of a sudden it seems that Republicans, afraid to buck the president even when they know he’s wrong, want to renege on that agreement to go along with the president’s shutdown plan. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This bi-partisan negotiated deal remains on the table and would certainly receive more than 60 votes in the Senate.

And second, if President Trump doesn’t want to agree to that bipartisan bill, we could also avoid a shutdown by passing a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security. We think it should be for a whole year. It would keep the government open and still provide another $1.3 billion for border security, on top of the $1.3 billion that the president has not yet spent. Again, this option would certainly receive more than 60 votes in the Senate.

So, President Trump has a simple choice of two good, bi-partisan options. If he decides to support either the bipartisan DHS bill or a continuing resolution, I am confident that both would pass by comfortable margins.

The only position that cannot garner sixty votes is the president’s position. He is adamant about having a partial shutdown. He keeps repeating over and over again that he wants a shutdown. And make no mistake about it, he is the only reason there would be a shutdown.

If President Trump wants to throw a temper tantrum and shut down some departments and agencies over Christmas, that’s certainly within his power. But he has two more sensible options available to him. It would be a shame if the country suffered because of a Trump temper tantrum.

It’s the president’s choice.