Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) said Tuesday that Congress should agree to President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, in one of the first public statements by a Democrat calling for his party’s leaders to throw in the towel as the partial government shutdown drags on.
“Give Trump the money,” Peterson said in an interview with Fargo, N.D.-based radio station KFGO. “I’d give him the whole thing . . . and put strings on it so you make sure he puts the wall where it needs to be. Why are we fighting over this? We’re going to build that wall anyway, at some time.”
Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has bucked his party in the past. A founding member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, he represents a district that Trump won by a 30-point margin in 2016 and has one of the most conservative voting records among House Democrats.
Peterson’s remarks come as the partial government shutdown is entering its second month, with few signs of progress toward a deal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) intends to hold a vote this week on Trump-backed legislation that would reopen the government and meet the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has declared such a measure a “non-starter,” and Democratic opposition further solidified on Monday after lawmakers and immigration activists discovered the Senate legislation contains stringent new limits on the U.S. asylum program.
Erica Werner contributed to this report.