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Rep. Collins: Trump putting security first with border wall fight

It’s time to stop punting on the issue of border security and “have honest discussions” about funding the border wall, says Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. Collins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss President Trump’s threat to Democrats to shut down the government and why he thinks the time is right for negotiations.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now for a Republican point of view from the Capitol, Representative Doug Collins from Georgia. He's also the House Republican Conference vice chair.

    Representative Collins, thank you so much for joining us.

    So, we heard the president today say that he's proud to own a government shutdown. Are congressional Republicans proud to own the shutdown, if it happens?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    Well, let's frame this the way the president did.

    When he was confronted with Chuck Schumer, who didn't want any part of his own responsibility in this, the fact that he was putting American citizens below a caravan and other immigrants who are willing to grow under and over walls and through borders through previous countries, he is simply saying, I'm willing to have the argument about, who is — who's been what here?

    He said, I'm putting the American citizen first, I'm putting our security first, I'm putting the willingness to negotiate and say, let's find a deal. And Mr. Schumer is simply saying, we're not going to go any further. We have made our last remarks.

    So I think it's a matter of how we actually parse what the president is saying. He said, I will have this argument. I will own that part.

    But Chuck Schumer, again, like he did back in January, he's got to realize he's putting Americans below folks who are trying to basically break into this country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What about your own view, though, Congressman Collins? Do you think a government shutdown — that it's worth a government shutdown to get $5 billion or whatever the president's asking for, for a border wall?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I think it's a time for us to come to this table and say, we need a serious discussion about this issue.

    We have punted on this one for a while. We have talked about this before. This is one piece of what is broken about our immigration system. You cannot have a fix, whether it be issues of DACA, issues of guest workers, issues of other things that we need in our immigration system that are viable, legal functions, without having to deal with how we handle our security.

    This has become an important part. And, unfortunately, we have had a discussion of one or the other, but not both. I think this is something it's now time to have. It provides a discussion point for us to jump off to.

    And nobody would ever say that the best way to find this is to do a shutdown. But I think, at some point in time, we also have to come up to the reality of, these are deadlines that need to be met. And if they're not met, the president is saying, we need to have this discussion now.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, even if it means a shutdown?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I think, at some point, that is what we're leading to. I don't think anybody would want that.

    Let's also remember, this is the first round of them sitting down. This is the first round of a president who is a negotiator, who is a dealer, who's wanting to put things out there.

    I'm going to give him the credit to say, let's start this process. Look, everybody wants to have a clock somewhere. They want to have a clock saying the shutdown is so much.

    It's the way, unfortunately, this town has learned to operate. I'm ready to see us break out of this and have honest discussions about issues. And I think the president laid that on the table today, and it was sort of interesting when you saw that Mr. Schumer was one willing to negotiate, while Ms. Pelosi was wanting to move the cameras out. That's not transparency.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let me ask you about what the president is saying, though. He says he wants a wall. He wants $5 billion, give or take for that wall.

    Democrats are now saying — and we did an interview this evening with Congressman Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House — saying they — he thinks there could be movement on money, in other words, for border security, but not for a wall.

    Would that be acceptable to congressional Republicans?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I think the president has made his point that we need the wall, we need that security. This is about border security. Let's keep it where it's at.

    And if that's the wall part of it, if that's the other functions of it, then we're glad to see that Mr. Hoyer is willing to come to the table and discuss the fact that security is needed.

    I think at this point in time, what we have really got to focus on is, we're in the phases of where we have time to fix this. It's time for the president, as he has done today, just take that step forward and say, here's my negotiating point.

    Now, where do we go from here? If the Democrats simply come to the table and said, no, Mr. President, we're not going to do that, and if Ms. Pelosi is worried about her position or even her newfound possibility of being speaker, then we were not coming at it from a position of strength from either side.

    So we need to make sure that the president, who has made it very clear what he wants — we're standing behind him. We're — we have done this in the House, and it's now time for the Senate to also decide who they're going to support as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But do I hear you saying, though, this is all the Democrats' doing, that the president doesn't bear some responsibility for what transpired today?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    We all bear responsibility.

    I think what the president did was really interesting. How many times have the media said, we would love to know what goes on behind closed doors? Why don't you tell us what goes on?

    And what was really interesting for me today is, the president made his position. This is not something that's normal. This president likes to talk about it. He likes to have it out in public.

    What I noticed was interesting was is, as we discuss this, these are valid things to discuss. Now, once the press left, they had more discussions about that. But it was interesting to me that they would discuss this back and forth, but yet, at the same time, there was also some — Ms. Pelosi in particular, who was saying, shouldn't we have these off camera?

    I think part of that is some of the issues that we need to have. There's always negotiations that need to be in private. Those are things. But I think laying out the framework of where parties are was important in this part. And I think the president was right for that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm thinking of the musical "Hamilton" and the song "I want to be in the room where it happened."

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But just very quickly, do you see compromise coming here?

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    I think there's room for an opening.

    The president has always been one — I mean, it's sort of been his trademark throughout his career. It's the art of the deal. It's trying to find that way forward to make sure that we get — his first commitment was always to border security and to Americans and making sure that we have what we need, to then fix the other problems.

    I think there is room here. I think we're going to see the administration work toward this. I know us on — the folks up here on Capitol Hill are willing to work toward that. We need to make sure that we're putting the American people first.

    I believe the president is. It's now time for the Congress to get on this negotiation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Doug Collins, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    It's always good to see you, Judy. Take care.

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