Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic candidate for president Tulsi Gabbard said Sunday that her party’s leadership was not blameless for the partial government shutdown that is now approaching a month, accusing both sides of posturing and refusing to compromise.
“The problem here is that this issue, like so many others in Washington, are being relegated to partisan politics,” she said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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“Where if a Republican is putting forward a proposal, Democrats are going to shoot it down. If Democrats are putting forward a proposal, Republicans are going to shoot it down, really thinking about which party can call a win on this issue.”
The result, she said, is a loss for the country and especially the 800,000 federal workers affected by the shutdown, which has been driven over disagreements about immigration.
Negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders have stalled, but President Donald Trump put the ball back in Democrats’ court on Saturday when he announced an offer that would include his $5.7 billion request to fund a steel barrier along parts of the southern border in return for temporary protections for immigrants with temporary protected status and who came to the U.S. as children.
Democrats have roundly rejected the proposal, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling any wall funding a “nonstarter” and criticizing the offer’s lack of permanent relief on the issue of TPS and Dreamers.
Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday said that Trump’s proposal is not the administration’s final offer and that there could be room to negotiate, but he also said it was disappointing that Democrats had refused the offer outright.
But Gabbard said Sunday that both parties are guilty of being unyielding, adding that both sides are displaying an “unwillingness to actually just sit down and work through the details that each side is putting forward, knowing that neither side is going to get everything they need.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have “completely hardened their positions and are unwilling to come together and work out the differences,” she said, pointing out it’s not an isolated problem.
She said the problem is “an unwillingness to just say, ‘Hey, here’s my position. Here’s yours. Let’s figure out how we can work out the differences that we can, putting forward the best solution for the American people.’”
While recent public polling has pinned most of the blame for the shutdown on Trump and the GOP, that could shift if the public agrees with Pence that the White House’s offer is a “good faith compromise” that Democrats refuse to consider.
Democrats have argued that the president will need to reopen the government before engaging in any real negotiations over border security.