Weekly Democratic Address
January 25, 2019
Hello, I’m Ted Lieu and I represent western Los Angeles County in the United States Congress. I previously served on active duty in our military because I believe America is an exceptional country, the most amazing nation in the world.
But right now, the federal government under Donald Trump is partially shut down. No civilized nation on Earth shuts down its own government.
I’m going explain how we got here, how the shutdown affects you, and how we re-open government.
It’s pretty simple how we got here. In fact, it’s all captured on videotape. Last month, Trump told the American people, quote, “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.” End quote.
No President of the United States should ever be proud of shutting down our government. But Trump carried out his threat to shut down government. And he was enabled by Republicans in the House and the Senate.
This shutdown started during a time of unified Republican control of the federal government: the White House, the Senate, and the House. Democrats inherited this shutdown from Republicans.
And the effects of the Trump Shutdown are severe, harmful, and dangerous. There are some government jobs where we want full staffing and do not want the employee to be tired, stressed out or desperate because one mistake can be fatal.
Air Traffic Controllers, who help keep the flying public safe, are not getting paid and are under increasing pressure to work multiple jobs. Or, they’ve simply to quit to get another job in order to make ends meet.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association issued a dire warning, saying that they cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at which their entire system will break.
As a result of the Trump Shutdown, there have been fewer food inspections, fewer inspections of planes, and the inability of the Consumer Products Commission to respond to unsafe product warnings.
The shutdown has particularly impacted the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with keeping Americans safe.
Our Border Patrols agents, TSA personnel, and Coast Guard members are all working without pay. Some have had to use food banks to feed their family; some are working multiple jobs to make ends meet; and some will need to quit because they cannot sustain working without a paycheck.
The financial crunch doesn’t just impact federal workers. It impacts the landlords that can’t collect rent from furloughed renters; the small business owners who can’t get their permits from federal agencies; and the individuals who can’t get in touch with the IRS to work out payment plans.
The shutdown is also hurting our economy. Nearly 400 trade associations and chambers of commerce have said the shutdown is causing significant damage to families, businesses and the economy. Recently, the White House’s top economic advisor admitted that the US economy may show zero economic growth this quarter.
Now, how do we stop Trump and the Republicans from continuing to inflict harm on the American people? The Democratic position has been straightforward, consistent, and reasonable: Re-open government. Negotiate a deal.
Democrats will never allow Trump and the Republicans to use the harm of a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic. Because if we do, then Trump will do this any time he has a policy disagreement with Congress.
The position taken by Trump is, in fact, quite perverse. He is saying that his concession is to re-open government. No American President should ever be taking the federal government hostage to extract demands.
Democrats are working hard to re-open government.
The House of Representatives has voted 11 times to re-open our government.
The Republican-controlled Senate unfortunately has refused to pass any House legislation to re-open government. By failing to pass those measures, Senate Republicans are abdicating their duty as part of a co-equal branch of government.
I am also disappointed that Trump and Republicans continue to lie about basic facts. The truth is, there is no crisis at the border that justifies a government shutdown.
According to the latest data from the FBI, violent crime is down. Property crime is also down.
And according to the Department of Homeland Security, border crossings are at an approximate 20-year low.
Study after study also shows that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, commit less crime than native-born Americans.
The truth is, the shutdown is not about protecting our border, it’s about Trump’s failed campaign promise. He promised Mexico will pay for his wall. He has been unable to get Mexico to pay for his wall, so he decided to take the mantle and proudly shut down our government. That is wrong, and the American people know it.
Poll after poll shows that overwhelming majorities of the American people do not support funding for a wall in the middle of a government shutdown. They support re-opening government.
Mr. President, listen to the American people. Re-open our government.