VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons joined CNN New Day this morning: “If the President is not going to be constructive, we need him to stay out of this.”
“There is not a lot of trust here. That’s how we got here. President Trump very famously in a vulgar exchange more than ten days ago now rejected a strong bipartisan deal that would have moved us forward. If the President is not going to be constructive, we need him to stay out of this and let the Senate be the Senate and resolve it.
"And I dedicated all of yesterday to meeting with Republicans to try and rebuild that trust,” said Coons.
Will the government will reopen today?
I hope that it will. We should end this government shutdown. What brought us into this was the chaos of trying to negotiate with President Trump over a number of important issues. As you well know, we’ve got undone homework in the Senate. We haven't resolved for months funding disaster relief for hurricanes and wildfires, reauthorizing community health centers and the Children's Health Insurance Program, addressing DACA and border security, and coming up with an agreement for how much we will invest in defense.
More on the shutdown:
We are going to have a caucus meeting where we will consider what is the final offer on the table from the Republicans. I am hopeful we can move forward. But we need to have a commitment we can in fact, move forward on all of these things. It is progress that Majority Leader McConnell said last night that DACA and border security are important, and we will proceed to them. But, what does that mean? If you're negotiating to buy a car, it is good enough to have agreed on the price. But, at some point, you have to look at the details. So, we have to look at the details right now.
If I can trust that we will in fact, in the next three weeks resolve, and we're very close to having resolved, Children's Health Insurance Program, we can do that today. Community health centers, we can do that today. That there will be a vote on a strong bipartisan deal on DACA and border security. And, that we can deal with investment in defense and domestic priorities. I'll remind you on Friday, the Department of Defense said no more short-term CRs. We need to move forward with funding the Department of Defense. That’s why Republicans joined us Friday night in rejecting a 30-day CR.
On defense funding:
And I'll remind you, we Democrats offered a three-day CR so we could stay here all weekend, hammer out the details, and reopen on Monday. That was rejected. And Senator McCaskill of Missouri, who’s a strong advocate for our military, offered an amendment that would ensure our armed forces got paid during any shutdown, that there wouldn't be interruption for them. That was rejected. There is not a lot of trust here. That’s how we got here. President Trump very famously in a vulgar exchange more than ten days ago now rejected a strong bipartisan deal that would have moved us forward. If the President is not going to be constructive, we need him to stay out of this and let the Senate be the Senate and resolve it. And I dedicated all of yesterday to meeting with Republicans to try and rebuild that trust.
One of the challenges we have as a body is that there are several members who are part of this negotiating group who pretty famously had promises from Leader McConnell that certain things would happen by certain dates. And, frankly, those promises weren't kept.
I'm seeking reassurances from Republicans in his caucus that they will also insist on this process, on moving forward. I think we can get there today. I will continue working on it. But I've got to have trust that we are committed to solving all of these problems, which we can.
On the path ahead for Democrats:
I think Democrats need to show that we are willing to work hard across the aisle to move forward, but that we are going to get these things resolved. And I’ll remind you, we are months overdue in a Republican-controlled Congress in addressing things that affect tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Americans from the opioid crisis to disaster relief to community health centers to Children's Health Insurance Programs. We spent months, while Republicans tried unsuccessfully to repeal the Affordable Care Act and tried, ultimately successfully, to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill. That's what they have been doing, and they have left these important pieces of homework undone. I believe in the goodwill of the Republicans I've been negotiating this weekend that we can get all of these done in the short-term. Let's hope we can move forward today.