Mitch McConnell: Dems’ wall reversal is sign of ‘partisan tantrum’

January 8, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats Tuesday of a “partisan tantrum,” saying they backed border barriers many times before, and have only changed now that President Trump is the one asking for the money.

He ticked off past support of then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for a massive fence-building spree in 2006, when they voted for 700 miles of the border to be sealed with double-tier fencing.

And other Republicans pointed to votes in Congress over the last two years for 122 miles of more fence and wall, saying more than 150 Democrats backed that spending yet are now opposed.

“It’s just political spite. A partisan tantrum,” Mr. McConnell said as he opened the Senate for business Tuesday, hours before Mr. Trump was scheduled to deliver a prime time address from the Oval Office.

The 2006 Secure Fence Act has become a bit of an albatross for Democrats.

It called for 700 miles of the 1,950-mile border to be covered by double-tier fencing.

A year later, Congress watered down those requirements, leaving it up to Homeland Security to decide where and how much to build.

In the end, just 354 miles of fencing and another 300 miles of vehicle barrier have been erected.

Still, the 2006 vote for 700 miles has set a precedent Democrats are grappling with.

Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who voted for the law, said he doesn’t regret that vote but told ABC’s “This Week” program that enough wall was built and there’s no need for more.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who also voted for the 2006 law, has bristled at comparisons between that and what Mr. Trump envisions.

“I have never supported a border wall, and I challenge anyone on the hard right to find a time when I, or any expert, has supported a wall like what the president has proposed,” he said on the Senate floor last month.

He said Mr. Trump was the one throwing a “temper tantrum.”

Update hourly