Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester both agree that a crisis is brewing in America, though one believes it’s on the southern U.S. border while the other finds it among the 800,000 federal workers who aren’t getting paid.
Shortly after President Donald Trump issued his remarks from the Oval Office, Daines issued a statement announcing his support for the president’s position on the border. He didn’t specifically mention the wall.
National pundits are watching to see if cracks form in the GOP coalition around the shutdown and a push to separate government funding from the debate over the border wall. Daines said he remains firmly on the side of the president.
“I agree with President Trump, we have a crisis on our southern border,” Daines stated. “Mexican meth is coming into Montana and destroying families across our state. Congress must come together and do the right thing. And until they do so, they shouldn’t get paid. I stand with our Border Patrol agents and I’m asking that my pay be withheld until we get this issue resolved.”
Twenty days after Trump rejected bipartisan legislation to fund portions of the government, dozens of federal agencies remain closed. More than 800,000 workers aren’t getting paid as a result of what’s now the second longest shutdown in American history.
Tester said Montana has been among the hardest hit, with its 14,000 federal employees and two national parks. Along with Alaska, Maryland and Washington, D.C., Montana has the highest percentage of federal workers when compared to the overall workforce.
“There is a crisis taking shape in our country, but it’s not on the southern border,” Tester said. “The dysfunction of this administration is causing real turmoil in the lives of thousands of Montanans and their families. It’s time to reopen the government and put an end to this crisis.”
Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped write legislation to fund the government while providing money to secure the southern border. The legislation has passed both the House and Senate.
Tester said the legislation is now in the hands of the president.
“As a result of the president’s shutdown, hardworking Americans are being forced to secure our country’s borders, ports and airports without knowing when their next paycheck will arrive,” Tester said.
Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte have both offered to waive their salaries during the shutdown. On Tuesday, they introduced legislation requiring Congress to pass a budget that balances within 10 years.
Trump is seeking $5.7 billion for the border wall.
“With out-of-control spending digging our country into a deeper hole, Congress has to stop digging and show some fiscal discipline,” Gianforte said. “Hardworking Montana families make their ends meet, and the federal government should be no different. Just as members of Congress shouldn’t get paid during a shutdown, they shouldn’t get paid if they can’t balance the budget.”