On CNBC, Portman Discusses Need to Reach Bipartisan Agreement to End Government Shutdown

January 9, 2019 | Portman Difference

During an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, Senator Portman discussed President Trump’s national address last night and urged his colleagues to come to an agreement on border security to end the government shutdown. Portman has introduced legislation in previous years to (1) permanently end government shutdowns; and (2) provide additional border security funding in exchange for codifying DACA protections.  He intends to reintroduce both measures soon in this new Congress. Portman also discussed the current strength of the economy and Friday’s robust jobs report, which has been made possible due to pro-growth policies like tax relief and regulatory reform. 

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and a video of the interview can be found here.




“I thought the president did a good job. He was presidential, stuck to his talking points, and made a good case. I did think that neither side really showed any willingness to compromise and I think that’s what we need right now. We need to be sure we get this resolved. I’m not big on government shutdowns, as you said, they never work. The taxpayer always ends up paying more. But I do think the border needs a lot more help right now. I think it’s interesting the Democrats, who in 2013 you know, were willing to put $46 billion for border security and even as recently as last January 2018, Senator Schumer talked about $25 billion in exchange for citizenship for Dreamers.  In the Secure Fence Act back in 2006, Democrats were willing to go along with more fencing then. It seems to me that there is an opportunity here to find some middle ground.” 


“I’m introducing a bill this week with John Thune. It simply says $25 billion over five years for border security, some of which will go towards new fencing. Then dealing with the DACA issue, dealing with those kids who came here as children, through no fault of their own. I think it’s a nice compromise, I think it’s clean, it’s simple. In the past, Democrats have expressed interest in that, so my hope is that we can get beyond this shutdown and we can get beyond the back and forth by just coming up with a simple solution."


“I don’t think government shutdowns are effective, as you indicated earlier. I’ve offered this legislation every Congress for the past several. I haven’t had much luck because appropriators in the Congress don’t particularly like it because it takes away some of their discretion. It says if there’s a spending problem, in other words if you get to the end of a fiscal year and you haven’t had had the new spending bill approved, or if you have a continuing resolution as we have now that’s not solved, then you simply continue spending from the previous year but you reduce it by one percent in the first 120 days and another one percent every 90 days to give them the incentive to get back to the table. I think that would be better because the dislocation that occurs is – you know, it’s inefficient. As you probably know, all these folks are going to get paid back yet they’re not working, some of them.” 


“I’m reaching out to my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike are having a meeting on it today, in fact, to find a solution. That’s why I’m going to offer this legislation today or tomorrow that says let’s just simplify it and say some money for fencing, some money for border patrol, some money for sensors, some money for drones. Let’s ensure we do have a more secure southern border. I do a lot of work, as you know, in the area of opioids, and let’s face it, the heroin and now the crystal meth is coming in almost exclusively from Mexico over that border. So there’s lots of reasons to do this and in the past, Democrats have agreed to that, so I prefer that. Let’s solve the issue. The problem with the Republicans in the House or the Senate saying that they would like to go ahead and do what Nancy Pelosi is talking about is that the president has said he won’t sign it. For that matter, the leader here in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, says he’s not going to put it on the floor so it’s probably not a worthwhile exercise whereas we’re so close, I think, on substance, let’s try to solve the problem. 

“It depends who you’re talking to, to be honest but some people are realizing there has to be some give on both sides and I think the president knows that and I think he eventually will get there. My hope is that in the next couple days we’ll begin to see some real progress towards a compromise. The president said $5.7 billion, the Democrats are at $1.3 billion apparently now though in the past they’ve been at $1.6 billion. But let’s say $1.3 billion, the compromise is $3.5 billion and the question is, will there be a wall? The president has said no there won’t be wall actually, there’s going to be this fencing and he has said that some will go to fencing but some will go to other things including ensuring that people can respond quickly when people do breach a fence. So, I think there’s room for compromise here. Again, I point to the past votes that Democrats have taken. My hope is that we can resolve this issue and resolve it this week.” 


“I do think that since you mentioned the economy, we should talk about the fact that not only are the futures up today but the economy is doing great. I mean 312,000 jobs last month. If you look at what’s happening after tax reform versus before tax reform, the Congressional Budget Office projections have doubled in terms of the amount of jobs per month. And in fact, we’re exceeding that now, those projections. So tax reform and regulatory reform have worked, and the economy is doing well. There are more jobs out there than people looking for jobs, this is extraordinary. I think if we weren’t tied up in this other issue, we might be talking more about that and the need for us to continue to do other things to grow this economy.”