VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons on Morning Joe about his vote to end the government shutdown.
Sen. Coons on this weekend’s bipartisan negotiations: “My growing confidence in the Republicans in that group led me to believe we really have a chance at fixing this problem. Leader McConnell has given us time on the floor and made a commitment in such a public way. I find it hard to believe he would walk that back.”
“I have growing confidence in the group of Republican senators that were meeting with a group of Democrats for several days, we spent hours, I think a total of eight hours together fairly intensively over three days. I believe they are committed, several of them intensely committed to moving this issue forward in a positive way, and to working together to get 60 votes. Leader McConnell has given us time on the floor and made a commitment in such a public way. I find it hard to believe he would walk that back,” said Senator Coons.
On 2020 Democrats:
Well I work in Washington, I work in the United States Senate. And the old joke is that every senator gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror and says good morning, Mr. President, and I serve with dozens of people who think that they, too, could be President someday.
Given the dysfunction and at times even the chaos that President Trump has caused in our Capitol this past year, it’s easier than ever to understand why many of my colleagues think they could do a better job. In the interview with Kasie, what I was trying to focus on was being positive about the bipartisan working group that spent all weekend working together to come to a stronger agreement about moving forward on DACA and border security and how my growing confidence in the Republicans in that group led me to believe we really have a chance at fixing this problem.
And I do think the average American, if we had a government shutdown that had lasted as long as it did in 2013, would have just been disgusted with all of us, and when we do things in Washington collectively that lead the average American to change the channel and say a pox on all your houses, that’s not good for the country, it’s not good for our party, and I think it just drives us farther apart. So, I was trying to be positive about the prospects now for a real vote on the floor of the Senate on immigration, for the first time in five years.
On whether this was a victory:
I do think getting CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, re-authorized and funded for six years, something that’s been lapsed for months now, was a big step forward. But frankly, I think everybody in our caucus knows that there remain several other important things not addressed. Community health centers. Disaster relief. Remember the hurricane damage that Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands and Florida and Texas are suffering through. Funding for the opioid crisis and addressing DACA and border security. My hope is with the new opening in the next 17 days, we will negotiate a solution to all of these.
And, we gained a commitment by Majority Leader McConnell on the floor, with specificity, that by February 8th there will be a vote on the floor of the Senate on DACA and border security, and that that debate will begin with a neutral base bill. There was a lot of concern given his initial wording where he said it is my intention to move to immigration. That what we would have gotten on February 8th is he put a bill by Cotton and Perdue on the floor, we would have one up or down vote on the floor and that’s it, he would have kept his commitment, and we would have moved on. The actual wording that he said on the floor yesterday mattered to the bipartisan group that was trying to move us forward to a real debate that could resolve our unaddressed issues here. The larger issue for all of us is we still don’t have an agreement on increasing spending for our defense and domestic needs, we’re still under the budget agreement caps. We still don’t have a resolution to appropriations. That’s one of the most urgent things to work in the next two weeks.
I understand the skepticism that many in my caucus, and in the country, feel because there have been some instances recently where it was reported that promises were made to specific senators and they were not kept. I have growing confidence in the group of Republican senators that were meeting with a group of Democrats for several days, we spent hours, I think a total of eight hours together fairly intensively over three days. I believe they are committed, several of them intensely committed to moving this issue forward in a positive way, and to working together to get 60 votes. Leader McConnell has given us time on the floor and made a commitment in such a public way. I find it hard to believe he would walk that back. Because he’s making that commitment to key members of his own caucus. Both privately and publicly. And, at the end of the day, I was convinced we were not going to get more from him than that commitment. It was time to move forward.
On activists upset with Democrats:
... When I look back at the division in the Republican Party in 2010, I’m grateful because it was a Tea Party primary here in Delaware that made it possible for me to be in the United States Senate. So, I’ll say to Democrats, if you want to lose a guaranteed safe seat, have the kind of senseless, divisive primaries that happened in Delaware and prevented beloved former Congressman and Governor Mike Castle from being the Republican nominee in 2010. I’ll also say Amy Klobuchar is firmly committed to making progress and making a difference. If that’s not advancing Progressive values, I don’t know what is. She pitched in and worked tirelessly, was one of the real leaders of this group, and I think is wholeheartedly behind solving these problems. That’s the kind of leader I think folks are looking for and I don’t think it’s a betrayal of Progressive values deserving of a primary to work tirelessly to advance one of the more divisive issues in our country which is addressing immigration.