Reactions to President Trump’s Oval Office speech on Tuesday night fell predictably along party lines, though more Utah Republicans are openly embracing the president’s hardline stance of keeping the government shuttered as the impasse over wall funding persists.
We have a crisis on our southern border. Our law enforcement personnel are being overrun. We need more border patrol agents, more emergency medical technicians, more immigration judges, and yes, more wall.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 9, 2019
“We have a crisis on our southern border,” Sen. Mike Lee tweeted shortly after the primetime address. “Our law enforcement personnel are being overrun. We need more [B]order [P]atrol agents, more emergency medical technicians, more immigration judges, and yes, more wall.”
He joined other Republicans on KSL Newsradio on Wednesday to reiterate support for the president’s campaign promise to extend a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a pledge the president once claimed Mexico would pay for.
Rep. Chris Stewart seemed to rally behind the president on Wednesday despite the growing uncertainty over how long the shutdown would last, and as many furloughed federal workers begin missing paychecks.
“I thought it was persuasive,” he told KSL’s “Dave and Dujanovic” show on Wednesday. “The Democrats voted for border security many times in the past, but they’re in such disagreement with this president that they can’t seem to come to the table and compromise on this.”
Although Stewart and others, like Rep. John Curtis, said they would be willing to negotiate over a DACA deal to protect immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, President Trump has repeatedly rejected such deals and isn’t offering one now.
Their reactions appear to contradict public opinion in Utah. An October 2018 poll by Utah Policy showed 47 percent of voters strongly opposing a taxpayer-funded border wall.
Among Republicans, however, the wall polled better, with 62 percent in support and 35 in opposition.
Sen. Mitt Romney did not issue a statement immediately following the speech, but told a reporter on Wednesday that reopening the government should be a priority. He attended a luncheon with other Senate Republicans and President Trump as talks continued during the 18th day of the shutdown.
“I think it’s important for us to complete the border wall ... at the same time, I want to see government open again,” he told a CNN reporter.
Just asked Romney if shutdown should end absent a border deal: “I think it’s important for us to complete the border wall ... at the same time, I want to see government open again. A lot of people are hurting and more people will be hurting if we don’t get the government open.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 9, 2019
Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, joined his party in calling for the government to be reopened before Congress resumes debate on immigration policy.
“Both parties and President Trump need to work together to end the partial government shutdown,” he said. “This impasse is unproductive, unnecessary and harms our ability to resolve serious issues such as reforming our broken immigration system and lowering health care costs.”