Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa Fourth District) will likely soon be the lone member of the Iowa delegation in the House of Representatives who supports building the border wall. He’s hopeful that before that day comes, the Senate finds a way to pass a spending bill that has $5.7 billion in it for the wall.
“It’s pretty clear the House Republicans are for a border wall and security,” King said. “I’m going to say that a stand alone bill with $5.7 billion in it is clearly going to pass the Republican majority that still exists. That’s pretty well proven by what we passed out of the House and sent over to the Senate.”
Senate Democrats have signaled they’re willing to dig their heels in and oppose funding for the wall. President Donald Trump has said he won’t sign a spending bill that lacks money for a border wall.
“It makes a difference on whose got the most nerve. The President has a fair amount of nerve, but he didn’t signal the strongest signals a few days ago,” Rep. King said. “If he’d have come into this thing from the beginning and said ‘I’m going to be $5 billion or bust, this will be Schumer’s shutdown no matter what,’ I think then the odds are better that we succeed. If the President holds he wins, provided the House stays with him, and I think we do.”
Things get complicated in a scenario in which the shutdown lingers into January.
“The tricky part is if we go past Jan. 3 and Nancy Pelosi receives the gavel,” Congressman King said. “They can start initiating a number of different pieces of legislation. The longer they’re willing to hold out, the more pressure will be put on Republicans in the Senate. It’s an open question right now. I don’t know which place I’d put my chips.”
While many wonder why the government can’t function like a business, Rep. King said he’s figured out why that sometimes seems impossible.
“In business there’s incentive to get it done because you’re all investors in one way or another,” he said. “Politics is the exact opposite of that. You have opposing views. They don’t want to get together — they want to draw pain from the other side and declare victory in that fashion. The tension has to build until one side or the other decides they’re losing ground in public support.”
King has served in Congress since 2003. If he had his way back then, today’s debate would be unnecessary.
“I look back now and think if I had gotten my way when I first came to this Congress that wall would’ve been built a long time ago and we wouldn’t even have a discussion,” he said. “It’d be a safe place along that border almost everywhere. People say ‘you want to build a 2,000-mile long wall?’ Well, in the end I think we’re going to have to. We’ll just keep building it until they stop going around the end.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 80-90 percent of illegal drugs consumed in America come from or through Mexico.
“That doesn’t mean it shuts off, they’d find other routes because of demand, but the price would go up substantially and fewer drugs would be consumed in America,” King said.
Another benefit of the wall would be keeping people of interest from nations of interest (potential terrorists) from entering the country. According to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary for Homeland Security, the Department of Homeland Security stops 10 known or suspected terrorists from entering America per day.
Finally, it would slow the influx of illegal aliens into the country. King said when he first arrived in Washington there were 11 million, then it crept up to 12 million and drifted back to 11 million. That number remained there for a decade.
“I knew that couldn’t be true,” he said. “I challenged the people who came up with those numbers and they had a long, convoluted description. Now I see a report from Yale that there are 22 million in America. I asked Kirstjen Nielsen that under oath two or three days ago, what she thought that number was, her answer came back to that 22 million being a pretty good benchmark.”
Many news outlets reported on the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal who died in the custody of DHS. King asked Nielsen how many people die on their way to America from Central America or Mexico.
“Her answer was thousands and thousands,” King said. “I thought it was stunning that she would say it that way. I expect an answer like that if I get a straight answer, and we got one. The Democrats are trying to blame the death of the 7-year-old on the Department of Homeland Security and our ‘draconian border security’ is how they’d describe it, but what about the thousands and thousands who die just to get to the border? That is a human tragedy.”
He also mentioned the incredibly high number of people who are raped or sexually abused on their way to the border.
“There’s a lot of brutality in the human trafficking and the huge business that the drug cartels are in,” King said.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans will win this shutdown showdown or if Democrats will be successful in preventing the $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall from becoming reality.
“I’ve been through a few of these shutdowns now and followed the history in a few others,” he said. “I always say in the end it’s whoever blinks second-to-last who loses and the one that is standing yet is the one that wins.”