Trump should heed Cornyn on shutdown
Given the chaotic conditions in Washington these days, it’s hard to determine whether another government shutdown is looming or President Donald Trump is just threatening one for political leverage. But if the first possibility is a realistic one, the president should heed the words of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texan and the No. 2 man in the Senate GOP hierarchy.
“I’ve been here during government shutdowns,” Cornyn said. “When the government reopens, the same problem is staring you in the face, because the government shut down in the first instance. … Perhaps the president has a strategy. I heard him talk about getting the military to build some of those physical barriers. That just remains to be seen. But I can tell you that right now I don’t see the benefits of a shutdown strategy.”
That’s a tactful way to put it. A more succinct way might be to say that shutdowns are simply bad policy for either party, whether prompted by Congress or the president. They cost taxpayers a lot of money, since the government workers who have been furloughed usually get paid later for the work they didn’t perform. Taxpayers are clearly inconvenienced when they can’t access the agency to need to serve them or address their problem. It’s just an awkward way to operate a multibillion-dollar enterprise, and no one in Washington should embrace it like some kind of game.
The latest reason for a possible shutdown is the president’s insistence on funding for a border wall, which even many Republicans don’t support, even though some of them are reluctant to say so publicly out of political loyalty to the president. One of them who did speak out, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, framed the issue well when he said that a wall was the “most expensive and least effective” way to secure the border. It’s also worth noting that public support for a border wall has never been large, perhaps a third of voters at best.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the leader of Senate Democrats, made another valid point when he noted that if Mexico is going to pay for this proposed wall — as the president has repeatedly promised — then the U.S. Congress doesn’t need to find any money for it.
If Trump is truly serious about a shutdown, more Republicans — like our other Texas senator, Ted Cruz — need to tell him why that’s a bad idea. Our country can have the border security it needs without this divisive issue. The sooner our representatives in Washington realize this, the better.