Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging the Trump administration and Congressional Democrats to reach an agreement that will put an end to a federal government shutdown that has stretched on for nearly three weeks.
“We need to reopen the government. That ought to be the first concern," Edwards told The Advocate on Wednesday after a news conference. “Border security is important. There ought to be enough overlap in common interests to where if both sides can sit down and talk in good faith, they can work through this.
“They need to get it done and get the government open and resolve this issue,” he added.
Edwards’ remarks came just hours after President Donald Trump gave a nearly 10-minute televised address Tuesday night related to his ongoing standoff with congressional leaders over funding for a wall along the Mexican border. Trump is requesting more than $5 billion for the border wall, which is he says is needed to curb illegal immigration. His Democratic opponents have argued that the wall would do little to stymie people entering the country illegally.
Edwards indicated he watched the address and said he supports enhancements to border security, but the focus should be on the impact that the shutdown is having on American citizens.
“We’ve got people all across the country who will not get a paycheck this week, but we also have increasing numbers of people who are not showing up do to essential duties, like TSA workers,” Edwards said. “That also is important for our nation’s security.”
Trump continued discussions about the border wall on Wednesday.
“The Republicans want border security. They want national security. They want to have a steel barrier or a wall of concrete. They don’t care. But I'll use any term they want,” Trump said after a lunch meeting with Republican senators.
Louisiana leaders are closely monitoring state services that have not yet but ultimately could be affected as the federal government shutdown …
Trump has said that he will keep the government shutdown for “months or even years” if Democrats refuse his $5 billion wall demand.
Trump and his allies have made conflicting statements about what form the physical barrier on the border might look like. During Tuesday night's address the president said a physical barrier "is absolutely critical to border security." He said rather than a concrete wall, he had moved to "a steel barrier" at the request of Democrats, but didn't name which Democrats would support such a proposal. Democratic Congressional leaders have generally opposed the push for a physical barrier.
After President Donald Trump's televised Oval Office address last night in which he repeated his call for a physical border wall separating th…
“It’s hard for me to understand what he’s calling for," Edwards said. "We have a physical barrier in place in many places along the border now, and it’s entirely reasonable that that barrier needs to be upgraded and maintained – perhaps extended. I’m not quite sure anymore – it doesn’t seem to me like he’s asking for one seamless wall all the way from Pacific Ocean all the way across of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Edwards said he personally believes that a combination technique could be used to strengthen border security.
“I support border security and I think a combination of barriers, technology and people ought to be able to get it done," he said. “It just seems to me like there’s enough common interest on both sides, if they would just sit down and discuss it, they’d work their way through it.”
Edwards, a Democrat who is seeking re-election this year, is familiar with the approach of taking his message to the people via a live televised address. A month after taking office, Edwards gave a rare statewide television address to explain the state budget crisis.
Similar to Trump’s tone Tuesday (Trump spoke of a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border”), Edwards painted a grim picture of what would happen if the Legislature didn’t act to avoid the nearly $1 billion fiscal cliff the state faced.
“These are not scare tactics. This is reality -- an unstable state budget will not only hurt children and working families in our state, it will devastate communities, businesses and local government as well,” Edwards said in his February 2016 address.
Edwards memorably noted that university funding could be so devastatingly impacted by cuts that football would be canceled.