Golden: Blame Game Irrelevant, People 'Just Want To See Us End The Shutdown'

Jan 9, 2019

Among those with a new perspective on national affairs is Jared Golden, Maine's newly elected 2nd District congressman.  The Democrat spoke from Washington Wednesday with Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about President Trump's plea over the national airwaves Tuesday night for a wall along the U.S.'s southern border.

GRATZ: Congressman, good morning.

GOLDEN: Good Morning.

Did President Trump say anything last night that makes you any more sympathetic toward funding a barrier along the southern border?

GOLDEN: For starters I think it's a false narrative to suggest that I am against border security or against,  you know, reasonable security measures, like border fencing, measures that would include giving the resources that the Department of Homeland Security actually asks for, whether that be more agents - Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, ICE agents - or, you know, things like drone surveillance technologies. This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. In fact the C.R. [Continuing Resolution] that was passed before I even sat as a member of Congress included money for some of these things. And that would have only gotten us into February, and probably more funding like that would have followed that C.R.

By the way, a continuing resolution - that's a budget bill. In essence, you didn't support Nancy Pelosi's re-election as speaker. I'm curious as to what you thought of her response last night to the president's address.

To circle back a little bit on the president's address, the things that really jumped out at me were two things: One, there was a deal that could have kept government open and, at the last minute, the president pulled out from it - actually, I think, surprised Mitch McConnell and the Senate and led to the shutdown beginning in the first place. Two, no one talked to, very much, I think, about what matters most right now, in my opinion, which is the impact that this shutdown has on everyday people's lives, including 800,000 workers, some of whom are in Maine and are looking now like they're going to be having to work without pay, or some of them being told they can't come into work and furloughed. And the blame game doesn't matter to most people - they just want to see us end the shutdown, get people back to work make sure that services to Mainers and Americans can continue. These are important services and programs, things like - stop and think about USDA or HUD housing vouchers. Those are going to be issues that can have a really negative impact on landlords and on the people that count on them to keep a roof over their head. My constituents, the rest of Maine's delegation, know all the people back home in Maine want us to work together, end the shutdown and secure our borders - shouldn't be one or the other. We can we can do both.

All right. Fair enough, but does that kind of lead you to think that perhaps, in the Democratic responses with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer, that maybe they missed the boat last night in what they were talking about and what they were calling for?

I would say that all leaders are missing an opportunity to come together, show the American people we can work together to get things done. Now, let's be honest here about the history of how we got here. The president ran a campaign where he talked about a wall as though it was going to be every stretch of the entire southern border and some giant concrete barrier. That's not cost effective, it's not efficient, it's not realistic. But to go on TV and suggest that Democrats are against border security - that's wrong and it's not true. Now, secondly, for, I think, Democrats to oppose border security measures strictly because it's this president's administration asking for them - that would be wrong too. We supported border fencing barriers on the border, things like drone surveillance technologies - increases in that type of funding, and more agents. We supported that under the Obama administration. We should continue to support it today.

It may be too early, but have you had any feedback from constituents to last night's two broadcast addresses?

We have people calling in on both sides - people who are upset and outraged at the idea of this concrete wall, other people that are scared by the rhetoric that's being pushed around and want to make sure that we're safe.

All right, one last question. This is more of a personal note. Have you had a chance to settle down there in Washington? Are you in any kind of routine?

No. [Laughs] No routine. We've been here for a few days and I'm looking forward, actually, to getting back to the district here on Friday - and we're having a nice little get together in our Lewison office.

Congressman, thank you very much for the time. We appreciate it.

Thank you.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.