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VIDEO: Sen. Bennet spars with Sen. Ted Cruz over government shutdown

Posted at 1:08 PM, Jan 24, 2019
Michael Bennet CSPAN
Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate has voted to block a President Trump backed measure to end the government shutdown by providing funding for a $5.7 billion border wall while also extending protections to “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The measure failed in a 51-47 vote. 60 votes were needed for passage.

Democrats wanted passage of a House-approved measure that goes counter to the president’s desires in regards to funding. That measure failed in a 52-44 vote.

Before the vote, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado took to the floor of the US Senate this morning to spar with Texas’ junior Senator Ted Cruz over border security and the government shutdown.

Senator Cruz said the only thing keeping a spending bill from passing in the Senate is objections from Democrats over approving $5.7 billion for a border wall.

Senator Bennet immediately called for time. “I seldom, as you know, rise on this floor to contradict somebody on the other side. I’ve worked very hard over the years to work in a bipartisan way,” opened Bennet.

Later he added, “[President Trump] wants five billion dollars to build some antiquated, medieval wall that he said Mexico would pay for.”

“These crocodile tears that the Senator from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take. Because when the Senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013 my state was flooded! It was underwater! People were killed! Peoples houses were destroyed! Their small businesses were ruined forever! And because of the Senator from Texas, this government was shut down for politics! Then he surfed to a second place finish in the Iowa caucuses,” Bennet mostly shouted red-faced from the lectern.

He continued by referring to a lack of federal resources to help first responders at the time.

Moving on to the current showdown over the government shutdown, Bennet said no elected leader from Colorado would support the president if he announced plans to build a “medieval” wall by taking people’s property using eminent domain.

During the ensuing 20-odd minutes Bennet’s comments were sharp criticism of President Trump’s domestic policy, foreign policy, and off-the-cuff comments about other politicians who are now supporting him.

“In 2013, we passed a bill here in a bipartisan way, it got 68 votes. It had $46 billion in border security in it. 46! Not $5 billion for his rinky-dink….. wall he’s talking about building,” said Bennet.  He continued by outlining all of the border security measures included in the bill, yet according to Bennet, all the effort was sabotaged by Republicans in the House out of objections to President Obama and a desire to help then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

In conclusion, Senator Bennet said, “We shouldn’t shut the government down as it has been in this case for a campaign promise, I’m sure he knew, he could never keep.”

Senator Ted Cruz responded by saying, “I think we should discuss issues and substance and facts and not simply scream and yell at each other.”

He doubled down on support for the border wall by adding, “Senators from states nowhere near the border presume to lecture border states about what it’s like on the border and what works securing the border.”

This is Day 34 of the longest government shutdown in the U.S. impacting 800,000 federal employees and an estimate 1.2 million contractors.

If a deal is not reached by Friday, federal workers will miss out on another paycheck. The Coast Guard is just one group still on duty without being paid. They will be reimbursed after the shutdown ends, yet the financial impact on families is a strong burden to bear amid this fight.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) announced Wednesday he plans to introduce legislation calling for immediate payments to federal workers impacted by the shutdown.

Following Bennet’s impassioned comments, Gardner stated on Twitter, “I will vote for both options to fund the remaining parts of the government and fund border security. I’ve consistently been against government shutdowns because I don’t think they are the right way to govern.”

“It’s disappointing Senate Democrats are refusing to support the President’s reasonable compromise that would open the government, fund border security, and protect Dreamers,” continued Gardner.