Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN during an interview on “State of the Union” on Sunday that Congressional Democrats would rather have President Donald Trump lose the fight for border wall funding rather than have America win.
“The bottom line is they (Democrats) want Trump to lose more than they want the country to win,” Sen. Graham said on Sunday.
The federal government entered its second week of a partial shutdown on Saturday after Congress failed to fully pass a continuing resolution (CR) that included $5.7 billion for border wall construction funding.
The CR with the wall funding passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 20 but was not voted on in the U.S. Senate the following day after the Senate was unable to gain enough support to pass the bill.
Democrats and President Trump are at a current stalemate over border wall funding. President Trump has said he will not sign a bill that does not include funding for a border wall and Democrats have said they will not support a bill that includes any funding for the wall. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security, but that the funding cannot go towards a border wall.
Democratic U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York reaffirmed the Democrats’ position on border wall funding during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” saying that Congress would not “waste” taxpayer money on a border wall that he referred to as “a fifth century solution.”
"Well at its core, our responsibility in government is to manage public money. We can either manage it efficiently or we can waste taxpayer dollars," Rep. Jeffries said on Sunday. "And what Donald Trump and the Republicans want to do is waste $5 billion in taxpayer money on an ineffective medieval border wall that is a fifth century solution to a 21st century problem.
Rep. Jeffries was recently elected as the new Democratic caucus chairman.
“Yes, we need comprehensive immigration reform," Jeffries continued. "Yes, we need to enhance border security. But we are not willing to pay $2.5 billion or $5 billion and wasting taxpayer dollars on a ransom note because Donald Trump decided that he was going to shut down the government and hold the American people hostage. That’s unreasonable."
The White House offered less than the $5 billion in the House CR but more than the $1.3 billion offered by Democrats as a compromise, but Democrats have not declined or offered a counter. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D. CA, who is expected to become the next Speaker of the House when Democrats take control of Congress in the new session beginning on Jan. 3, has stated that the House will take up bills to reopen the government that does not include any border wall funding.
But Sen. Graham warned Democrats on Sunday during his “State of the Union” interview that there will be no deal if a new bill does not include border wall funding.
“So to my Democratic friends, there will never be a deal without wall funding,” Sen. Graham said on Sunday. “And many Republicans are going to offer something as an incentive to vote for wall funding that you have supported in the past.”
Earlier in the interview, Sen. Graham hinted that the incentive could be some form of legal status for immigrants residing illegally in the U.S., saying that “Democrats have a chance here to work with me and others including the president to bring legal status to people who have very uncertain lives.”
Sen. Graham added in that President Trump will not give up on border wall funding without a “fight.”
“President Trump is not going to walk away from this fight without border security funding – money for the wall for a lack of better way of saying it,” Sen. Graham said on Sunday.