GOP Senator Decries Shutdown Being Used As ‘Bargaining Chip’ In Budget Debate

While a handful of GOP lawmakers backed the federal government shutdown as a means to obtain billions in border wall money, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) spoke out against the move, arguing it was unjustifiably wrong.

In a Fox News interview Sunday, the senator told anchor Maria Bartiromo that there was no good excuse for the five-week disruption in federal agencies across the nation. 

″We should never ever close the government down as a bargaining chip in a budget negotiation, whether it’s border security or Planned Parenthood or military funding or anything else,” Alexander said.

Although the government is set to reopen, giving both sides of the aisle three weeks to come to an agreement regarding President Donald Trump’s demands for more than $5 billion for the wall, Alexander remained confident, stating “we should” see funding by the Feb. 15 deadline.

He also pointed out that the partial wall existed long before Trump’s presidency, painting the president’s efforts as a reasonable goal to shore up security, despite many Democrats’ feelings it is both a waste of money and a representation of xenophobia.

The solution, Alexander maintained, was cutting out Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) influence.

“We need to get it out of the speaker’s hands and the public debate and into the hands of members of Congress who have for 20 years known that a comprehensive border security plan includes more personnel, more technology and more physical barrier,” he said.

Trump’s request is to extend the wall by more than 200 miles, Alexander pointed out, noting it “would not build a wall from shining sea to shining sea as he said.”

As the clock ticks on negotiations, key Democrats, including Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, have offered no indication they’ll waver in their opposition to the funding proposal.

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