Rep. Diana DeGette Talks Government Shutdown, The Wall And Trump's 'Racism'
Rep. Diana DeGette returned to Washington as the most senior member of Colorado's congressional delegation and in the political majority.
But tempering the Democratic Party's newfound control in the House is the government shutdown, now entering its third week.
DeGette talked to Colorado Matters about the ongoing shutdown and her work to reopen some financial federal agencies. The District 1 congresswoman also discussed the wall, border security and anti-President Donald Trump comments made by freshman Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.
On why she believes the wall isn't a popular idea or an effective one:
"Well actually, for Donald Trump, this was his mantra when he ran for election and this is how he appeals to his base. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, a minority of Americans think a wall is a good idea. Most Americans, while they support border security just like the Democrats in Congress, they think a wall is a bad idea.
I said to someone the other day, as a Democrat, people don't always think of me as the party of fiscal responsibility, but what I say is, 'Why would I say to Donald Trump, because he's throwing a fit and closing the government down, "I'm going to give you $5 billion to build a wall that all the experts agree won't work, when we could spend less money than that, have more effective border security and have a better message to the world?"'"
On how her Coloradan constituents are handling the government shutdown:
"Well Colorado, of course, we have a lot of federal workers here in Colorado. We have a lot of public lands. We've been hearing from constituents about conditions in the national parks and in some of the national forests. We've also heard from workers who are concerned they're not going to be able to pay their rent. I tell them I'm doing my best to open up the government as quickly as possible.
So, this week, we're going to start passing a whole series of bills, starting with reopening the financial sectors so that people can get their tax refunds back. That's going to impact millions of Americans if they can't get their tax refunds, the IRS and those agencies, and then we're going to start trying to reopen those other agencies. One of the ironies of this shutdown is many of the agencies that are shut down have absolutely nothing to do with the border security issue."
On comments made by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib:
"Well I think that these new freshman, which is the largest freshman class since the 1970s, really are bringing in a new approach and a new way of thinking, and I think that always really is helpful to have the new thought. I may not have used some of the same words that Congresswoman Tlaib used, but I think that, really, Donald Trump is kind of a poor critic of that kind of language given some of the language he's used. I also will say I do think Donald Trump is a racist based on his tweets, not just since he's been president, but when he was running for president."