One of the top Democrats in Congress has said that border walls do work, in contrast with many of his colleagues, who have claimed that walls do not.
The comments came as the standoff between President Donald Trump and Democrats over funding for the border wall reached its 27th day on Jan. 17.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the No. 2 Democrat in the House, also said that a border wall is not “immoral,” rejecting an assertation by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the current leader of the party.
“Obviously, they work [in] some places,” Hoyer said during an appearance on Fox News when asked if he favored removing the existing border wall portions. “A wall is—that protects people is not immoral. I think the issue is whether it works.”
Hoyer’s comments historically align with most Democrat leaders, including current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who voted for fencing at the border both in 2006 and 2013. Former Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also supported the 2006 bill.
Border security experts also support a border wall.
Hoyer also said that Democrats are willing to make a deal with Trump, who has tried to reach a compromise, but they have been rejected by Pelosi. While the president is asking for $5.7 billion in an appropriations package that includes wall funding, the House Speaker said she would only give Trump $1 for the wall.
The stalemate has led to the partial government shutdown, which affects about 25 percent of the federal government.
“Well, we’re prepared to do that,” Hoyer said, referring to reaching a deal with the Trump administration. “I think there can be a compromise position. There are all sorts of alternatives that we could pursue, I think, to come up with a consensus solution to achieve the objective I think we all want to achieve, and that is a secure and safe border for our country and for our citizens.”
Democrats in general have struggled to align their messaging, at times claiming border walls don’t work and at other times saying they do.
Confronted by his previous support for a barrier at the border, Schumer tried to differentiate between a wall and a fence.
“A fence works. You ask the experts. A big, concrete wall is expensive and it doesn’t work,” he told CBS NY earlier in January. “You don’t just need fencing. You need drones, you need helicopters and you need roads. The agents can’t get people crossing the border because they can’t get there.”
In addition to funding for the border wall, Trump has requested funds for supplementary border wall security.
Pelosi, though, has vowed not to give any support for the wall calling it “an immorality.” Democrats currently have the majority in the House while Republicans hold the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he won’t bring any funding that’s approved by the House to a vote in the Senate unless it would be approved by Trump, calling it a waste of time to pass bills that the president would reject.
Trump has hit back on the claim that a border wall would be immoral, wondering why many rich Americans, including Pelosi, have barriers around their homes if it’s immoral.
“Some have suggested a barrier is immoral,” Trump said during his live address to the nation. “Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes?
“They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside,” he said. “The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.”