An end to a shameful shutdown

Dear Friend,

Let’s be very clear: on day 36 of this unnecessary shutdown, we ended up exactly where we could have been on day one. This short-term continuing resolution is exactly what the Senate passed on December 19, 2018. The only thing that has changed in the last five weeks is the pain that President Trump has needlessly inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Americans, servicemembers and small businesses. This senseless shutdown has cost our economy billions of dollars. It has put our national security at risk. Most shamefully, it has caused pain and anxiety for families in Delaware and across the country.

While it’s good news that our government will finally be reopened and federal workers will receive their long overdue paychecks, they should never have been treated like pawns. And there are far too many Americans, including federal contractors, who will not be made whole. People have lost income. Their credit has been impacted. Their families have been forced to go without through no fault of their own. Some have even lost their jobs. To all those affected, I offer my sincere apologies that you were ever put in this situation. It is shameful. We owe it to you to ensure that you are never again the victims of such irresponsible behavior.

The President’s announcement today makes perfectly clear that this shutdown – the longest in our government’s history – was entirely avoidable and unnecessary. Now, let’s have the fact-based conversation about smart border security measures and immigration reforms that members on both sides of the aisle have been eager to have for over a month now. In recent days, I have had productive, bipartisan conversations about how we can move forward and find principled compromises that enhance our security in effective ways.

As former Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I have had the privilege to visit our southern border many times. I have traveled there with military leaders, policy experts and cabinet secretaries. I have seen Democrats and Republicans agree, firsthand, to secure our borders, and have thoughtful ideas about how we can do just that – ideas that have proven effective and come from the men and women who work on our border every day.

As I have said repeatedly for the last five weeks, once the government is reopened, we should capitalize on those areas of bipartisan agreement, including providing funding for smart border security measures. There is also bipartisan agreement about providing permanent protections and a pathway to legal status for Dreamers and TPS recipients. And, just last week, even the Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that the way to seriously address migration to our border is to provide aid to the Northern Triangle countries in Central America — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — and fully fund the Alliance for Prosperity.

We should seize this opportunity, and make the next three weeks count. We have had success in the past, and I am optimistic that we can do it again now that the government is back open for business.