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Trump and Pelosi must ‘both give a little,’ says Sen. Rounds

As the Senate prepares to vote on two funding proposals Thursday, what are their expectations for making progress to end the government shutdown? Judy Woodruff speaks to Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., for his take on how we got to this point, what Democrats and Republicans should do next and why the president's request for additional miles of border barrier is "not unreasonable."

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Back now to the U.S. government shutdown.

    Our first of two views comes from Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

    I spoke with him a short time ago and started by asking if he sees any glimmer of hope for a compromise.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Nothing concrete.

    The good news is that we have actually got two proposals that will make the two sides actually recognize the differences. That's the first step. There's more work to be done.

    And I don't think anything comes solidly through until one of a couple of things happen. Either, number one, the president and the speaker recognize how critical this is, both give a little, and they start to find a way forward.

    The president, making his first move, came off of dead center. Speaker Pelosi will have to do that at some point. Once that occurs, then I think cooler heads will start to prevail, and we can start finding something in the middle where both sides can save some face and we can get government back to work again.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You said the president has moved of dead center, but isn't he still insisting on money for a physical wall along the border?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Well, he's talking about a barrier. We do have about, last time I checked, 654 miles of either pedestrian or vehicle barriers right now.

    He's asking for an additional 244 miles of either pedestrian or vehicle barriers. He has not specified what they have to be made of. He's indicating he will take concrete, steel. It doesn't have to be concrete, could be steel, but some sort of a barrier.

    Not unreasonable. He's not the first president. There would be four other presidents before him that have also felt that way and have done that, including President Obama. But he's also recognizing within this proposal that there's other things that need to be done.

    And we agree. He's got to do some things for the ports of entry. Critically, we need additional intelligence-gathering along that line and so forth.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, Senator, as you know, I'm sure, Democrats say their point is that, if the president is able to do this, to shut down the government and then be rewarded with what he wants, then their concern is that he will be able to try that again and again, that if he's rewarded and can shut down the government and be rewarded for it every time, that that's a bad precedent to set.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    I understand their point of view.

    But the reality is, he is the president of the United States, and he's made it clear that this is something that he has wanted from day one. And he feels that it's a slight to him when the speaker says you will get nothing.

    And so I think somewhere in the middle, there's got to be a way out of this thing, and I don't think it's simply saying, we're not going to give the president anything, you know, because we disagree. I think it's a matter of, we have divided government.

    I think the president has to come off what he originally asked for, and I think the speaker has to come off of where she was at. The other side is that we continue to start adding to it and making the bigger deal and starting to address some of the major issues in front of us, something similar to what we did in February of last year, where we actually created funding for a $25 billion proposal over 10 years, fully authorized and appropriated.

    But it also addressed the issue of the DACA kids and it started to address the challenges of chain migration as well. That may be an alternative as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, the Senate will have a chance to vote on a proposal the president likes. If that doesn't pass, we know there's a separate proposal. The Democrats are saying, just give us two weeks, let's spend two weeks, get the government back open, during which time we can go at this and try to come up with a solution.

    Would you be willing to support that?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    At this point, I think the sides have drawn a line in the sand. Each of them will say no to the other proposal.

    I will support the president's point of view for this one. I think my Democrat colleagues will support the speaker's point of view. Once that has occurred, and neither one comes forward with another votes to move forward, then I think the leaders can come together and say, OK, where are we going to go with this thing and how are going to we get cooler heads to prevail and what do we have to start adding into this to get something done?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There are attempts, I know, by senators on both sides of the aisle to come together outside of the leadership. Do you see any potential progress there?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    I do. Nothing concrete.

    But the fact of the matter is that none of us come to Washington to be in the middle of this mess. I think all of us came here to try to make things better. I think most of us admire the founding fathers and the way they handled it. They were principled individuals who still respected one another.

    And our country was based on one of the greatest arrangements ever made. Big states and little states got together. And these principled individuals that fought in the Revolutionary War came together and said, I may represent a big or I may represent a little state, but if we're going to have a Constitution here that's actually going to stand the test of time, we're going to have to indulge other side, as they said, which we now call compromise.

    And they created the House and the Senate. If founding fathers, as principled as they were, could come to an understanding that has lasted this long, the least we can do is find some ground in the middle here to where we can past this impasse that is really self-imposed.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Mike Rounds, South Dakota, thank you very much.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Thank you.

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