Republican Sen. Mike Rounds Discusses Ongoing Government Shutdown
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The partial government shutdown is at Day 19 and counting. This week, federal workers will miss their first paycheck. Republicans and Democrats are still deadlocked.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
And after a meeting at the White House this afternoon, chances of a deal look more remote than ever. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the president of having a temper tantrum.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
CHUCK SCHUMER: When Leader Pelosi said she didn't agree with the wall, he just walked out and said, we have nothing to discuss. so...
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Said it was a waste of his time.
SCHUMER: He said it was a waste of his time. That is sad and unfortunate.
SHAPIRO: Vice President Mike Pence later disputed that description. Republican South Dakota senator Mike Rounds met with President Trump on Capitol Hill earlier this afternoon and joins us now. Welcome to the program.
MIKE ROUNDS: Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity to visit with you.
SHAPIRO: That was quite a display on the White House driveway earlier today. Clearly, we're no closer to resolution. Have you heard anything from anyone that gives you hope of a resolution here?
ROUNDS: You know, I was not available during the time in which that meeting occurred. I was in a classified briefing, but I can tell you this. There's a real interest in trying to find some common ground, at least among the rank-and-file.
What we do know is it's going to take Republicans and Democrats to agree that compromise is the only way we're going to come out of this with a successful outcome. And that means Democrats are going to have to recognize that we control the Senate, and we control the presidency. Republicans are going to have to recognize that the Democrats control the House. Neither is going to be happy with the final outcome, but we need to come to a resolve.
ROUNDS: And that means answering part of what both parties want.
SHAPIRO: And so when you say there's interest among the rank-and-file in finding common ground, are there actually talks happening behind the scenes that we're not seeing in the headlines?
ROUNDS: What it is is a recognition that this takes not just the House and Senate, but also the president to agree to something. And that means that, as our leader, Mitch McConnell, has said, Democrats and the White House have got to come together. And once they've come to an agreement that they can both come out and say will work, we're more than willing to step in and participate.
What I found from my colleagues is the desire to do it in the following manner. No. 1, you're going to have to do something to satisfy what the president believes is a very important issue on the border. No. 2, government needs to get reopened, but you can't do one without the other. There's got to be a compromise that allows both sides to move forward and feel like they came out with somewhat of a victory.
SHAPIRO: So does that mean something like DACA allowing people who are brought to the country as young immigrants to stay in the country legally permanently?
ROUNDS: You know, we actually talked about that today. And as you know, last February, Senator King, who's an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and myself were the two - the two lead sponsors on a bill that would have provided $25 billion in funding for border security at $2.5 billion a year, authorized and appropriated. Along with that, there was a DACA fix included along with a limitation on what we call chain migration. Now...
SHAPIRO: There were enough votes to pass that, but the White House said no.
ROUNDS: Actually, we got 54 votes in the Senate, and we need 60. But the White House was concerned because, at that point, they were working through a court challenge on whether or not the president actually had the legal right to begin the DACA process in the first place. There may very well be something in the near future that might allow us to move forward with something along that line as an alternative.
When you get to one of these impasses, it's a matter of adding more in to come up with a final outcome. We actually had a discussion with some members today that suggested perhaps this is the time in which we start talking about adding in the budget process for the coming year...
ROUNDS: ...Talk about top-end numbers and so forth.
SHAPIRO: ...Just in our last minute, I know that this week you met with workers at a Sioux Falls airport who are not getting paid. There was a fatal plane crash in Sioux Falls over Christmas, and people working at the airport have not been able to take any leave to process the trauma. What message do you give those workers about why they are being forced to work without pay for 19 days now?
ROUNDS: Yeah. First of all, I'd tell them, look, in South Dakota, we just don't consider that to be acceptable at all. Second of all, we have to realize that it's not just South Dakotans that are making this decision. But these individuals, not only went through a very traumatic time in which they were providing services, and they were actively involved in doing their job during the Christmas holiday time with no pay. And they were involved, and they were observing a fatal plane crash. So my message was, we remember you. We appreciate you. We're going to do everything we can to try to find a resolve to this situation.
SHAPIRO: Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota. Thanks so much.
ROUNDS: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.