Dems, GOP dig in as government shutdown drags on

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Fred Upton

Washington — President Donald Trump and lawmakers continued the standoff over the partial government shutdown Wednesday, as the Democratic-led House prepared to take up individual measures to reopen shuttered federal departments.  

Trump walked out of a meeting with Democratic leaders at the White House, calling it a "total waste of time" because they wouldn't agree to fund the border wall for which he seeks $5.7 billion. 

"Negotiations are going to continue," Vice President Mike Pence told reporters afterward on Day 19 of the shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Trump was “insensitive” to the shutdown's impact on 800,000 federal workers who won’t be receiving their paychecks.
“He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money, but they can't,” she told reporters after the meeting.

Republican Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph said he would vote with Democrats this week to fund the departments unrelated to border security, though he doesn't expect the GOP-controlled Senate to act on those measures again. 

"I support the wall and border security, but the other remaining appropriations bills have nothing to do with the wall or border security," Upton said at the U.S. Capitol. "Why is it we’re holding all these things hostage?"

Upton was among a handful of House Republicans who voted last week for a measure to fund the closed cabinet-level departments with the exception of Homeland Security. 

"We have divided government, so both sides are going to have to give," said Upton, Michigan's most senior House member.

"I don’t know exactly what those parameters are going to be, but if this thing goes into next week — which I think is very likely — maybe some of those pressures are going to force this thing to happen."

Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, said she's hearing from federal employees in her district worried about missing paychecks and bills. 

"Frankly, we’re voting on Republican bills right now that were passed last session," Stevens said. "It doesn’t matter what party’s bills — I’m happy to be voting on those because I just want to get the government reopened."

Republican Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said Wednesday he'd vote against the funding measures. 

"I’m still willing to give the president and the process more space. We need to have some of those pressure points on this," Huizenga said.

"It’s unreasonable to have Democratic leadership say, 'We’re happy to talk to you as soon as you open it all up.' Then there’s no pressure to talk. The impasse is now, so go deal with the impasse now."

In Tuesday night's address, Trump argued there's "a growing national security and humanitarian crisis" at the Southern border that's overwhelming the U.S. immigration system.  

More:Trump pleads on TV for wall funding to fix border ‘crisis’

Michigan Democrats accused the president of creating a shutdown crisis that's is hurting constituents and federal workers.

Freshman Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, said he agrees with Trump that the country is in the middle of an emergency.

"I just don’t agree on what that emergency is. It’s an emergency that more than 5,200 federal workers in Michigan are working without pay or are furloughed," Levin said in his first floor speech. 

"It’s an emergency that the Environmental Protection Agency has halted inspections of our drinking water systems, and it’s an emergency that our president is ready — in his words — to spend years prolonging this shutdown and hurting American families for sake of an ineffective and expensive border wall."

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, called for reopening the government and an "honest-to-God" conversation between the White House and the Congress on border security. 

"I'm a big supporter in getting our border agents what they actually need to seal the border, and I believe we need more on that score. But I don't think his argument took us to a new place. It just restated it," Slotkin said of Trump's remarks. 

"I worked in the CIA. I worked on border security and homeland security, and I'm a big believer in it. We have the basis of a negotiation, so let's negotiate."

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said Trump should "stop lying to the American people and making up a crisis."

"He continues to play political games with real people's lives," Tlaib said in a statement. "Stop the falsehoods and misinformation. Move to reopen the government immediately.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said she's heard from affected Michigan workers who seeking temporary work, and contractors who won't get paid back even if federal employees do. 

“The professionals on our northern border keep us safe every day, and they know what they need to do their jobs. They are asking for more resources, more people, and above all, better technology," Stabenow said on the Senate floor. 

“Building a wall on our border is a little like providing the U.S. Army swords and shields and expecting them to defend our nation. Unfortunately, this administration is more focused on the merits of concrete v. steel than actually protecting the American public."

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, noted some Democrats have supported border wall funding in the past, and now "because Trump’s name is on it, it’s an evil thing."

"The reality is you don’t negotiate when you say there will be no money for a border wall. That’s just posturing," Mitchell said. "It should be settled. It’s not that hard. And it doesn’t have to be $5 billion."

Huizenga said he wasn't convinced of the need to declare a national emergency, as floated by Trump, raising concerns about taking money from the Department of Defense. 

"I think they need to make a better argument, and the negotiating process needs to move forward," he said.