Tim Kaine on Meet the Press: Trump Shutdown is hurting public safety

tim kaineToday on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine highlighted the pain President Trump’s shutdown is causing federal workers, including public safety professionals, in Virginia and across the country.

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of public servants began receiving paychecks for $0. As of this weekend, President Trump has now caused the longest shutdown in history. Virginia is home to 170,000 federal employees and tens of thousands of federal contractors.

“Who is he injuring? We’ve got 13,000 FBI agents, more than 10,000 Bureau of Prisons prison guards, air traffic controllers, Coast Guard folks who interdict drugs – all of them working without pay because of this President’s shutdown and yet he says he cares about national security when he’s taking paychecks away from hardworking public safety professionals? It makes no sense,” said Kaine.

In the interview, Kaine emphasized the urgent need to reopen government first, and then focus on reaching an agreement on border security.

“All that has to happen is that the Republicans have to be willing to vote the way they did just three weeks ago, open up government, and then we will dialogue about border security,” Kaine said. “…Why punish people who are applying for food stamps because the President is having a temper tantrum? Open government first. But Democrats have always been willing to invest in border security. Chuck, all we want to do is make sure that it’s spent the right way. Drugs come in through ports of entry. Let’s beef up ports of entry. The biggest group of undocumented people in the country come in on legal visas and overstay. If you build a million foot wall, it won’t deal with that problem. What we don’t want to do is waste taxpayer money on a vanity project that’s ineffective that the President said Mexico would pay for. But spending massive amounts on border security to keep us safe, Dems do it over and over again and it’s been Republicans that have been blocking it.”

Kaine has helped lead efforts in the Senate to call on President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reopen government. Last week, Kainesecured back pay for federal workers who go without a paycheck during the shutdown. Kaine lodged an objection to the Senate adjourning for the weekend that led to negotiations with Leader McConnell resulting in unanimous passage in the Senate of the legislation to secure back pay. The House passed the Senate version of this bill on Friday and the White House committed to McConnell that President Trump will sign it.

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