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Of temporary funding deal, Rep. Lujan says ‘we’re all moving forward’

After President Trump reached a deal with Congress to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks, “we’re all moving forward,” says Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. He talks to Judy Woodruff about what he sees as the administration’s “lack of empathy,” why the president should take responsibility for the shutdown and anticipating a “robust conversation” about border security.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we get reaction now from a member of the House leadership. He is Democratic Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. He is an assistant speaker of the House.

    Representative Lujan, hello and welcome to the "NewsHour."

    What's your reaction to all this, to the president's moving as he did on the shutdown?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Well, Judy, thank you for having me today.

    And, look, well, I think that we're all moving forward, now that the president has finally agreed to open up the government. This could have happened 34 days ago. This is very resembling of a deal that was put forth before the shutdown began back in December.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    But, nonetheless, what's most important about this is that federal employees are going to be paid, services are going to come back to life.

    The safety that we heard about, with the concerns coming from air traffic controllers, flight attendants and other federal employees surrounding our nation's skies, is something that we can now move forward swiftly to make sure everyone is safe again.

    But I will tell you, just this last week, having had a chance to go and participate with chef Jose Andres at his food pantry, seeing the number of federal employees that had to come in to be able to find that next meal, there is concern with how people were treated during all of this…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    … and what I would just suggest, the lack of empathy that existed within the administration, the president himself.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let me ask you.

    We heard Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer, the minority leader of the Senate, say today that he hopes the president learned a lesson from this. Does all the blame lie on the president for this?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Well, the president invited the cameras into the office with Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, then Minority Leader Pelosi, but the president said himself that he would take full responsibility for the shutdown.

    And I think that, absolutely, the president needs to own up to that fact. It was during the time that Republicans controlled the House and the Senate. And then, beginning day one, on the House floor, after we elected Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House, we began to move different pieces of legislation, including continuing resolutions to open up the government.

    But this isn't about looking back. It's about looking forward.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And let me ask you…

    (CROSSTALK)

    Excuse me.

    Let me ask you about that, because the president said today that he is going to insist — even though he didn't get it in this temporary agreement, he's going to insist that there is some money for a physical barrier at the border in a permanent funding agreement.

    Are Democrats prepared to go along with some money for that?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Well, I have been very clear about my position on this. I do not support the president's wall.

    I believe that it's a third century solution.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Any portion of the wall, is what I'm asking, any — any…

    (CROSSTALK)

    Go ahead.

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    There are many areas where we should find agreement between Democrats and Republicans, even that the president has stated, pertaining to border security.

    Democrats have laid out a very aggressive, modern, effective infrastructure plan that focuses directly on our ports of entry, using technology to scan the vehicles and cargo containers that are coming in to America, understanding that, to address the concern that we all have, including the president of the United States, with the flow of narcotics coming into the United States, 90 percent of the heroin, 88 percent of the cocaine, 87 percent of methamphetamines come through the ports.

    So let's make those investments looking there, in addition to the 3,000 vacancies that exists with customs agents and also with judges.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Excuse me.

    I understand that, but what I'm saying is, the president says that part of that formula, part of it is money for a physical barrier. At one point, Democrats appeared to be ready to come to agree to, what is it, $1.3 billion for a physical barrier.

    Is that willingness still there?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Judy, again, I have been very clear about my position. I do not support the president's wall.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So not a penny? Not a dollar?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    I do not support the president's wall, not one penny, not one dollar.

    But what I do believe is that we where we will find common ground is making investments that are modern, that are effective, that pertain to border security, and there be more attention to the infrastructure required not just on our ports of entry with the southern border, but the northern border, the water ports, as well as airports.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So does that mean, at the end of this three-week period, we could be right back to where we are now if the president continues to insist, as he is now, that there be some money in here for a barrier?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Well, the president, during his remarks at the Rose Garden today, himself threatened another shutdown. He himself said that we could be at a standstill at the end of this three-week period, and when he suggested he may declare an emergency, which, again, would be filled with challenges.

    But, nonetheless, how can we move forward in a bipartisan way to make sure we're making strong in investments as it comes to modernizing our border? And I believe that's what Democrats have laid out. And you will continue to see that in the upcoming days.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you see, just quickly, any give on the part of the Democrats?

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    I think the Democrats are willing to work with the president and with our Republican counterparts in the House and the Senate when it comes to a modern infrastructure package, especially as it pertains to border security.

    And I'm looking forward to a robust conversation about that. And let's see where we will end up.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Ben Ray Lujan, assistant speaker of the House, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M.:

    Thank you for having me.

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