Some Missouri Congressional members are vocal about their support or opposition to President Trump’s demands for border security funding and a wall as a partial government shutdown continues.

Last week, the President appeared to accept that his fight for a wall would be delayed into next year when he signaled he’d approve a spending plan the Senate passed on a voice vote that didn’t include funding. But after several arch-conservative media commentators criticized him for backtracking on a signature campaign promise, President Trump doubled down on his demand for wall funding immediately.  The House, including the conservative Freedom Caucus which had urged him to stand firm on the demand, then passed a spending bill last Thursday that included $5 million for the wall.

But Democratic opposition in the Senate prevented the upper chamber from securing the 60 votes necessary to send that proposal to the President.  Because of the deadlock, a partial government shutdown took place last Friday at midnight.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri)

Missouri Republican Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler issued a statement asking for Democrats to support money for border security, although she never said the word “wall” in her message.

“I encourage Democrats in the Senate and in the House to support legislation that funds our government and prioritizes our security by increasing funding to protect our border, stop the flow of deadly drugs into our communities, and curb the stem of illegal immigration into our country,” said Hartzler.  “I stand by, ready to support such a measure and to urge them to come alongside us to protect our communities.”

Western Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver took issue with Republican claims that mass quantities of illicit drugs are passing through the southern border in an interview with Missourinet.

“That is 100 percent not accurate,” said Cleaver.  “Just go to one of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) reports and they will tell you that the drugs are coming through the ports of entry, not through the unsecured parts of the border.”

Since last week, incoming White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney indicated a softening of the President’s demand.  On Fox News Sunday, he said the White House has made a “counteroffer” to Democrats on the border wall of between $1.3 billion and $5 billion.  “They were at 1.3 yesterday, we were at $5 billion a couple days ago. And the counteroffer that we gave them yesterday was between those two numbers,” Mulvaney said.

But he also said on the program that it’s “very possible” the current partial government shutdown will extend into the new Congress.

Missouri Republican Congressman Jason Smith (Image courtesy of KFVS-TV)

Southern Missouri Republican Congressman Jason Smith thinks President Trump will find a solution to the border security issue.

“The President has always been clear that he’s a negotiator,” said Smith.  “The House passed almost $6 billion.  The Senate has passed zero and they’ve offered $1.3 billion.  I’m sure the President would support somewhere in between just like Mick Mulvaney said.”

Congressman Cleaver thinks President Trump should stick to his original campaign pledge in which he declared that Mexico will pay for the wall.

“I take the President at his word,” Cleaver said.  “He said it over and over and over and over again.  I think they have it on record that he said over 50 times publicly that the Mexicans were going to pay for the wall.  I think we ought to have that take place.”

While speaking on the Senate floor last weekend, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer referred to the wall numerous times as “unnecessary” and “ineffective”.  Some specialists with experience in security have also said walls are only effective barriers in urban settings and that a wide range of resources should be used to protect the border in other geographic settings.

Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (September 2018 photo courtesy of Congressman Cleaver’s office)

But Congressman Smith contends the personnel working at the border support the wall.

“They’ve already built almost 32 miles of the wall,” said Smith.  “ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents have said that where they have built the wall it has stopped 90 to 95 percent of illegal border crossings.  The facts simply aren’t there when you talk to ICE agents.”

Representative Cleaver noted to Missourinet that Republican Congressman William Hurd, who represents a large swath of Texas along the Mexican border strongly opposes the wall.

“He’s going to vote against any kind of wall,” said Cleaver.  “His constituents don’t want it for a lot of reasons, property rights, hunting rights, water.”

The current partial government shutdown is blocking money for nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments and numerous agencies including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State, and Justice.  Roughly 800,000 of 2.1 million government employees are impacted by the deadlock.   An estimated 380,000 have been put on unpaid leave, and another 420,000 who have determined to be essential personnel are required to work without being paid.  Among those are Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers who operate security checkpoints at airports.

Not much is expected to change in the short term with the shutdown.  The Senate is scheduled to gavel in Thursday in another attempt to address the problem.

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