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Thune: Negotiation and CompThune: Negotiation and Compromise are Essential to Reopen the Governmentromise are Essential to Reopen the Government

“It’s time for Democrats to stop talking about reopening the government and take steps to actually do so by committing to real negotiations with the White House.”

January 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the importance of negotiation and compromise in order to reopen the federal government. While President Trump has a strongly held position, he has also made it clear that he is willing to be flexible and to negotiate with Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats have been unwilling to come to the table at all.

Thune’s speech below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, Democrats continue to talk about the need to fully reopen the government, and I could not agree with them more.

“It’s time to end this partial shutdown and get the government fully operating again.

“But there’s a problem.

“Democrats may talk a lot about the need to reopen the government, but they’re not willing to do the work that would be required to actually get the government open.

“Mr. President, in divided government, negotiation and compromise are essential.

“If you want to get something done in divided government, you have to compromise.

“But that doesn’t seem to be something that Democrats understand.

“For Democrats, it’s “my way or the highway.”

“They won’t give an inch. 

“They want their way, and their way only.

“Now, Mr. President, all of us would like to get our proposals passed exactly as we want them, with no changes.

“But that’s not realistic.

“If you want to get something done, you usually have to compromise.

“The White House has a strongly held position, but it has also made clear that it is willing to be flexible and to negotiate with Democrats.

“But Democrats refuse to play ball, and they continue to hold parts of the federal government hostage.

“Their refusal to negotiate is victimizing the very workers they claim they want to protect.

“The federal workers struggling right now are struggling precisely because Democrats are refusing to work with the president.

“Mr. President, Democrats need to negotiate with the White House to reopen the government.

“But they should also want to work with the White House on border security solutions.

“Border security is a national security imperative.

“No country can be secure if dangerous individuals can creep across its borders unchecked and unobserved.

“Democrats used to understand this.

“In 2006, the Democrat leader and the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for legislation to authorize a border fence.

“They were joined in their vote by then Senators Biden, Clinton, and Obama.

“In 2013, every Senate Democrat – every Senate Democrat – supported legislation requiring the completion of a 700-mile fence along our southern border.

“This legislation would have provided $46 billion for border security and $8 billion specifically for a physical barrier.

“Nearly every Senate Democrat supported $25 billion in border security funding just last February.

“In 2009, the Senate Democrat leader said in a speech, and I quote, ‘Any immigration solution must recognize that we must do as much as we can to gain control of our borders as soon as possible.’

He went on to discuss progress that had been made on border security between 2005 and 2009, including, and I quote, “construction of 630 miles of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.”

“In other words, in 2009 the Democrat leader not only didn’t oppose border fences, he praised them.

“Mr. President, the fact of the matter is, our border is not secure.

“Tens of thousands of individuals try to cross our southern border illegally each month.

“Illegal drugs flow into this country through ports of entry and unsecured areas of the border.

“Federal agents have seen a 115 percent increase in the amount of fentanyl seized between ports of entry.

“90 percent of the heroin supply in this country — 90 percent — flows across our southern border.

“Then there’s human trafficking.

“Weapons trafficking.

“And more.

“We need better border security – including more barriers, technology, and personnel along our southern border.

“We need to know who is coming into our country, and why, and we need to ensure that we can keep criminals, traffickers, terrorists, and dangerous goods out of this country.

“We need better border security – including more barriers, technology, and personnel along our southern border.

“We need to know who is coming into our country, and why, and we need to ensure that we can keep criminals, traffickers, terrorists, and dangerous goods out of this country.

“Mr. President, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was asked about Democrats’ flip-flop on border security – whether there’s any real difference between what they supported in the past and what they’re opposing now.

“Here’s what he said, ‘I don’t have an answer that I think is a really good answer.’

“‘I don’t have an answer that I think is a really good answer.’

“That’s honest, at least.

“Democrats don’t have a good answer because there is no real difference between what they supported previously and what they’re opposing now.

“Mr. President, before Christmas, I came down to the floor to talk about the divided government we’d be dealing with in 2019 and 2020.

“And I noted that divided government doesn’t have to spell the doom of productivity.

“In fact, over the last 30-plus years, some of our greatest legislative achievements have been the product of divided government.

“But I also noted that in order for us to be productive in the 116th Congress, Democrats would have to decide to work with us.

“So far, they’ve decided not to.

“In addition to refusing to negotiate on border security, Senate Democrats have also blocked us from considering legislation to support Israel’s security, strengthen our relationship with our Jordanian allies, and hold accountable individuals who participated in the atrocities of the Assad regime in Syria.

“Mr. President, despite our divided government, we can still accomplish important things for the American people.

“But it’s going to require an about-face from Democrats, who have so far made the 116th Congress about partisanship and their hostility to the president.

“It’s time for Democrats to stop talking about reopening the government and take steps to actually do so by committing to real negotiations with the White House."