WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and several other Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday threatening a government shutdown in April if Congress approves funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
However, in 2006, Schumer, along with 25 other Democrats, voted for President George W. Bush’s Secure Fence Act, which built 700 miles (1,000 km) of a protective barrier between the United States-Mexico border.
Part of the letter Schumer and other Democrats sent to McConnell read, “We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of (wall) funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s administration.”
A copy of the letter was provided to the Associated Press.
The letter also made clear that including any “poison pill riders” — also known as wrecking amendments — in the bill would result in severe blowback.
“If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy,” the letter continued.
The federal government is slated to run out of funding on April 28 — a scenario that can only be avoided if Congress passes a spending bill.
In 2013, the government shut down for the first time in 17 years for 16 days after Congress was unable to agree on a budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Republicans sought to block funding for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
According to Standards & Poor’s, the shutdown cost the United States $24 billion. Now, Democrats are threatening to similarly shut the government down.
Monday’s letter also stated that the Democrats were “committed” to working with Republicans. “Rather than pursuing this partisan path, we hope both sides can work together to ensure the government remains funded going forward,” Schumer and the Democrats wrote.
Earlier this month, Schumer publicly declared that he does not see “any place” where he and the Democrats in the Senate can work with President Trump.
While Republicans would be able to pass a budget with 60 votes, or a simple majority, they would need at least eight Democratic votes as well.