Thirty House Democrats, led by freshman Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), on Wednesday sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to offer President Trump a vote on border security funding if he first agrees to end the prolonged government shutdown.
Luria, who represents a military-heavy district including Virginia Beach, said she would be open to a menu of border security options, including a “physical barrier” of some type.
“He’s not talking about a wall from sea to shining sea,” she said of the president. “That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about physical barriers as recommended by experts.”
The letter marks the first time Luria has publicly engaged the leadership of her party since winning her first bid for public office late last year.
Her office collected signatures from lawmakers throughout the day Wednesday, even as Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic leaders were drafting a proposal to support increased spending on border security, without a wall, if the White House opens the government.
Luria’s letter asks Pelosi to offer Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a deal guaranteeing that the administration’s spending proposal would go through what she called normal order and procedures in the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.
A variety of lawmakers signed it, including two of Luria’s Virginia colleagues, centrist Rep. Abigail Spanberger and the more progressive Rep. Jennifer Wexton. All three freshmen flipped red districts blue in November by appealing to independent and Republican-leaning voters and promising to seek bipartisan solutions once in Congress — helping Democrats to recapture control of the House.
Luria defeated freshman congressman Scott Taylor in a district that voted for Trump by four points in 2016. She won Democratic-leaning voters opposed to the president without turning off conservatives.
Asked whether she worried the letter to Pelosi would alienate Democrats who support her, Luria said voters across the political spectrum want lawmakers to compromise.
“No, I’ve had positive feedback from the district,” she said. “People want to see the government open. They understand the hardship this is causing people. I really have not had any negative feedback.”
Last week she came out strongly against Trump after he canceled military transport for Pelosi and lawmakers — including Luria — to travel to Afghanistan and Belgium.
Luria called the president’s decision “inappropriate” and said his dismissal of the trip as a “public relations event” insulted American troops.
During the campaign, Luria said she has always considered herself a Democrat, but voted for Taylor in the 2016 Republican primary and the general election because she thought he would govern as a moderate.
Virginia has open primaries and does not register voters by party.