Dem Rep to Pelosi: 'Give Trump the Money' for Border Wall

Collin Peterson / Getty
January 22, 2019

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.) is bucking his party's leadership and calling for Democrats to approve funding for a wall on the southern border.

Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has not been a supporter of President Donald Trump but told KFGO's "News & Views" that it is time for Democrats to compromise.

"Give Trump the money," Peterson said. "I'd give him the whole thing ... and put strings on it so you make sure he puts the wall where it needs to be. Why are we fighting over this? We're going to build that wall anyway, at some time."

Trump has demanded more than $5 billion in funds to build the wall, which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called "immoral" and refused to allow any money to go toward. This apparently colored Peterson's assessment of the situation. The congressman told KFGO that there is not a clear path to a deal to end the ongoing partial government shutdown.

"I don't know how we get [to a deal]," he said. "The White House hasn't called me. When I bring up what I have to say [to Democrats], they look at me cross-eyed."

Peterson said money could be used for improving security at ports of entry as well as assisting the Border Patrol. He argued Trump could still use the money well if Congress does not just give him a "blank check."

"I don't know if I want to give [Trump] a blank check, but I don't want to preclude him from getting the money either, if he's going to use the money correctly."

The priorities Peterson outlined are included in Republicans' current proposal. According to a Washington Free Beacon report:

In exchange for this temporary amnesty, the ESSBA [End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act] would appropriate $5.7 billion for the construction of a "physical barrier" along the "highest priority locations" of the Mexican border. It would also provide funding for 750 new border patrol agents and 375 new customs officers, who would work to moderate the flow of drugs across the border. And the ESSBA would fund "custody enhancements, humanitarian needs, and counter-narcotics and counter-weapons technology," as recommended by the Office of Management and Budget.

Democratic leaders have generally held firm on refusing any funding for a wall, even as Trump has stood firm on his demand for the funding. Other Democrats have questioned whether this is the right course of action, with Rep. Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.) saying there has "gotta be some give and take" from both parties.