The current U.S. government shutdown — already the longest in its history — has lasted nearly a month, and California Senator Kamala Harris believes there is no one but President Donald Trump to blame for it.
The shutdown went into effect on December 22, after Democrats refused to approve $5.6 billion in funding for Trump’s border wall project. Since then, negotiations have repeatedly broken down. Trump has threatened to declare a “national emergency” and has also delivered a primetime address to garner support for his policy. Even so, no breakthrough has been reached, and the stalemate sees 800,000 federal workers without pay, including 40,000 Californians.
Speaking on FOX 11‘s political show, The Issue Is, Harris put the blame squarely on Trump for the shutdown, saying he was holding Americans “hostage” for a pet project.
“The President can not hold the American people hostage over his vanity project, which is what that wall is,” Harris said.
When asked if she — or Democrats in general — would be willing to accommodate some kind of funding for the border wall, Harris did not directly answer the question. But she made clear that any kind of negotiation from the Democratic side will only be possible when Trump reopens the government.
“We all want border security but don’t hold the American people hostage over this wall.”
Harris’ comments assume more significance in light of recent reports that the California Senator is planning a potential 2020 presidential run. With Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announcing exploratory committees for 2020 bids, Harris becomes the third woman looking to run in the Democratic primaries. As the Hill reports, despite being from California, Harris has picked Baltimore as the headquarters of her potential campaign. Baltimore is not only close to Washington, D.C., but is also home to a diverse population — something which is an advantage for Harris.
The Democratic presidential contender who looks best according to the coalition-building model is probably California Sen. Kamala Harris, who potentially has strength with all 5 groups of essential Democratic voters. https://t.co/6afskf2LSK pic.twitter.com/JJjWIr2cat— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) January 19, 2019
Harris, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also told Fox 11 that she will not be voting to confirm William Barr for attorney general, saying he has an ethical problem since he refused to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation.
“The real concern I have is that the real people in the department of justice, who are the ethics people, advised him to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation, he refused to say he would comply with that recommendation,” Harris said.
Harris is becoming an increasingly pivotal player among Democratic voters eagerly waiting for possible 2020 candidates, and with her blatant disregard for Trump’s positions, as well as boasting a support base that encompasses all groups, she might only be helping herself.