Thirty-one days into the partial government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans appeared no closer to ending the impasse than when it began, with President Donald Trump lashing out at his opponents after they dismissed a plan he'd billed as a compromise. Trump on Sunday branded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a "radical" and said she was acting "irrationally." The president also tried to fend off criticism from the right, as conservatives accused him of embracing "amnesty" for immigrants in the country illegally. Trump offered on Saturday to temporarily extend protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for $5.7 billion for his border wall. But Democrats said the three-year proposal didn't go nearly far enough
Fox News Radio's Guy Benson & Marie Harf spoke to Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) who says in his district they want border security but at the same time they depend on trade to generate economic activity on both sides of the border.
Guy Benson: [00:00:00] Welcome back. Benson & Harf Huey Lewis and the news they're happy to have you along on this Monday kicking off a new week day 31 of the partial shutdown. And joining us now to discuss this is Congressman Scott Peters he's a Democrat of California. He represents the 50 second congressional district there. Congressman thanks for joining us.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:00:20] Thanks for having me guy.
Guy Benson: [00:00:21] So before we get going on substance I just want to tell you I was in your district over New Year's.
Marie Harf: [00:00:26] That's right. You were.
Guy Benson: [00:00:27] I was in Coranado I stayed at the Hotel Del. I was there for the Holiday Bowl where my Northwestern Wildcats beat Utah in this huge comeback and I had an absolutely fabulous time and Coronado is drop dead gorgeous.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:00:41] I'm glad you say that. We had a really cold spell when you were here. Still at a good time. That's great.
Guy Benson: [00:00:46] Well the game day itself it actually it poured rain for five hours and people tell me that literally never happens there.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:00:53] I know we were all complaining. Well you know we were all complaining about it but it's a great.
Guy Benson: [00:00:57] We were like you were complaining and complaining and complaining until the third quarter happened. And then there were no complaints from anyone wearing purple in the stadium. All right so Congressman I want to ask you just getting going here. The president gave his speech on Saturday where he put some things on the table towards a potential compromise and I'm wondering was there anything that the president said that you thought was constructive or moving this situation anywhere closer to a resolution.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:01:28] Well I respond in two ways. One is you know we don't want to shut the government down to talk about all this stuff. We could have a serious discussion about border security TPS, DACA, the things that the president talked about in a bipartisan way but it's just not appropriate not be paying our Coast Guard not be paying our TSA and everybody else those people are really having a hard time and it's just not appropriate to shut the government down. Once we open the government. I mean sure that's the kind of thing that we should have a discussion about. I think you know I haven't said that there's no place on the entire border where we don't have to add any fencing. We just sort of look at it in a strategic way and not commit to a wall from that from sea to shining sea as they say regardless of what's needed.
Marie Harf: [00:02:13] Congressman I think Guy I can tell what my cohost is going to say to you and it's the Donald Trump no longer says seed is Shining Sea Bright. I of course am on your side of the aisle and agree with the idea that the president seems to just like the symbolism of the wall and what many of us are calling for is a group of experts to look at places where barriers are needed and places where other technology or more border patrol or whatever would be more useful you delivered the weekly Democratic message address a couple weeks ago. And you talked about exactly this issue. I think it was on January 11th and we talked about exactly this issue and talked about some of your work in San Diego. Talking to a Republican former mayor and a police chief and other people who deal with the border every single day and you would encourage people to go read the address it's online because you talk about the fact that such a such a big part of the problem is the actual ports of entry where most of the drugs come through where a lot of human smuggling takes place or talk a little bit about that specific piece of this.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:03:21] True that speeches paint my pinned tweet on my official account.
Marie Harf: [00:03:24] There you go. People can easily find it out.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:03:27] But I think it's true. Look I'm not saying that we do have about 17 miles of wall. As I said I'm not saying it shouldn't be there should be no barriers anywhere anywhere but here in San Diego trade with Mexico in particular is a really important part of our economy. We've built the gateway through that wall and where most of the problems that we have in terms of drugs or guns or human trafficking is at the port of entry. And that's where we think we need we need to support our customs agents as they try to interdict that stuff. And I think that's what the business people all along the border would tell you is that you know we don't want open borders. We want border security but at the same time we depend on trade to generate economic activity on both sides of the border. So that's how we see it here. In the last Congress we had a bunch of people on both sides of the aisle supporting the USA act which combined you know a mile by mile survey of the entire U.S. Mexico border by Homeland Security and recommendations for what to do at each place with some relief for DREAMers and for CPS. And we think that's the right approach once we open that government again.
Guy Benson: [00:04:45] Congressman I know that this is in some ways it kind of feels like a symbolic thing when you talk about the wall or now he's talking about barriers but some of the things that you just mentioned in that answer like additional help for Border Patrol agents and law enforcement along the border additional technologies those are components of the offer that the president put on the table on Saturday. I wonder is there a way to get the government back open with some assurance from the president and conservatives and Republicans who don't trust Speaker Pelosi for example to actually tackle these issues when there's no pressing incentive anymore. Is there a way to to offer in good faith an assurance that yes barriers are absolutely on the table more barriers will be funded. Where the Border Patrol says they're necessary. Because it seems like right now the speaker is kind of ruling that out really refusing to talk about it whatsoever which makes people suspicious and makes it difficult to get from no to yes.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:05:49] Well I you know I might push back a little bit on that Guy. I think that what we've really said is you know let's open the government then we can talk about about what what we need to do and she's actually come out and said And you know it's in her her speaker's e-mails that she's for you know cameras on drones and sensors and radar and State of the art technologies to detect tunnels all of those things are on the table for her. We should take her at her word. I think it's more about.
Guy Benson: [00:06:20] Barriers barriers is obviously a huge sticking point here.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:06:23] Right. And I think barriers where we're Homeland Security tells us after they looked at the whole border that barriers are the right way we should and we've voted for additional barriers as part of other compromises. We haven't done that while the government's closed. And I think we would you know we would not be in a position to change our minds on that we want to get to a resolution around the border. We want to get not just through these border security issues but which are important. But immigration reform because you know we have a lot of needs for workers on the side of the border. We have to deal with DACA we have to deal with TPS. We have a lot of issues on the table. We'd like to get to them you know back to where we were in 2013 where we had a bipartisan deal was probably the Democrats that we couldn't get Speaker Boehner to let us vote on.
Marie Harf: [00:07:10] Congressman what is the sense you get from some of your Republican colleagues that on this issue whether I mean you just mentioned 2013 that feels like a lifetime ago. But if there is a possibility given you know people talk a lot about the pressures our party has from our progressive wing I think there's a lot of pressure on the Republican Party from their right wing. Do you have a sense that there is a partner on the other side in the House or quite frankly in the Senate who would support a real comprehensive immigration reform. Looking at these issues in a real fact based way to try and get something done. Do you have a sense there's actually a partner there for that discussion.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:07:52] Marie I want to acknowledge the pressure that my Republican friends feel. I know that that they are scared to death of a tweet from the president that's critical and you know that he's got such a devoted base even if it's you know small in terms of the country it's big in those districts and so I want to acknowledge that at the same time I know they're frustrated they didn't come out here to watch the government shutdown. They would like to work on these issues. I'd love to. Will HurD. Will hurd as is the only Republican who represents the border districts and he wants to be really constructive. He said you know he's not saying open up the borders by any means he wants border security. He's been the leader in terms of getting Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to work together along with Pete Aguilar a Democrat from Redlands so he's out there I know that we had we had 30 people. We are I'm sorry 23 people willing to sign a discharge petition which is a pretty aggressive move against the leadership of the Republican last Congress that hasn't gone away although some of those folks have lost their wave elections and those folks are with us. But I think everyone would like to solve this. No one thinks this is a good situation and they'd rather get the government open and sit down and talk.
Guy Benson: [00:09:09] Congressman your colleague and our guest here is Congressman Scott Peters a Democrat of California. Your Democratic colleague from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard said over the weekend on television that both sides share blame in this impasse and that negotiations should be out in the open to work towards a solution. And the left leaning editorial board at the Washington Post wrote of Mr. Trump's speech over the weekend quote to refuse even to talk until the government reopens does no favors to sideline federal workers and contractors were the Washington Post editors wrong in your view on that.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:09:46] I don't think anyone refusing to talk about it. But I would say this that when President Trump goes and announces his position on TV. That's not exactly you know that's not exactly face to face conversations either. You know we had this come up in 2013 when the House of Representatives under Republican leadership passed this notion they were going to defund Obamacare as a condition of reopening government. It can't work like that. I mean you got gotta you have to let the government work under the terms we've all agreed to we all agree on funding levels last month and President Trump has changed his mind. Let's get the government open and then we'll talk. And I think you'll find that. You know I'm a I'm I'm considered a conservative to moderate Democrat. I mean I'm going to hold my my party's feet to the fire to do what we said we're going to do. Let's get this government open. Let's figure out what real border security looks like. Let's do it in a way that's smart for taxpayers and smart for security. And then let's move on to the big issue of immigration reform and that's what I think people expect of us and that's how we're going to get reelected. It's not this way.
Marie Harf: [00:10:53] Congressman last question and thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it. Let's move beyond immigration. There's a new Congress. Normally at this time if the government wasn't shutdown we'd be talking about what the Democratic agenda is. Having taken over the house. So in the last question. Beyond this issue beyond this crisis what else are you and your colleagues looking to tackle now that you have control of one of the chambers.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:11:18] Yeah well I speak for everybody you have a pretty diverse caucus but I would say you know Democrats control the House. We don't have the Senate. We don't have the presidency obviously we're not in a position to pass every bill we want. We want to pass but we are in a position to show the American people by what we do in the house. This is what the Democrats would do if you gave us the keys to the country. And I hope will be very responsible. I think we need to fix health care. There's a few things we should do right now right now that would be bipartisan. We ought to be thinking about infrastructure which everyone talks about but now we're in a position to work with Republicans on that. We all know America ought to lead on trade again. I don't know what happened to my Republican colleagues who are free traders. We need them back. We need them to speak up against these tariffs. Help us create jobs in the United States. There's a range of things that we can be working on together. And I think you know Democrats will be challenged. You know not to look like we're crazy but to be responsible and show that we can govern. I intend to do that.
Guy Benson: [00:12:20] Well a lot of conservatives have spoken up on free trade and I'm one of them Congressman Scott Peters of California for Second District. Hopefully if I can save up enough money to go back for another stay at the hotel or not I'll definitely be back there with bells on. Because it's it's a very cool spot and I'm envious that you get to represent that part of the country. Thank you very much for joining Benson and Harf.
Rep. Peters (D-CA): [00:12:42] Thank you very much for having me.
Guy Benson: [00:12:44] OK we're going to step aside when we come back it's an important day of commemoration in this country. We will commemorate on Benson and Harf