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Wyoming's Delegation Wants A Wall

© Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

As lawmakers will now try and reach a compromise with the short term lifting of the government shutdown, Wyoming lawmakers are holding firm with President Trump's demand for a wall.

President Trump turned heads for different reasons on Saturday when he put those DACA - or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival - kids on the table as a potential way to end this partial government shutdown. Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney says it showed Trump is serious.

"I think it shows that he's willing to do something reasonable and try to come to an agreement."

Cheney also predicts Trump's offer will eventually move Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi closer to the GOP's position that a wall is essential.

"She's particularly got members who are vulnerable who are in swing districts and they've got people at home who are saying, 'What in the world? You won't secure the border?' It's going to get increasingly tough for her to hold her caucus together on this."

But most Democrats say the pain being felt from the closure of 25 percent of the federal government is too much pain for many to endure, especially those in Indian Country. New Mexico Democratic Congresswoman Deb Haaland is one of two newly seated Native American women in Congress.

"Indian Country's been hit hard before the shutdown so this doesn't help, obviously," Haaland said.

Haaland added that most Democrats support efforts to put new security measures along the border but that they don't want to support a wall that many experts say is unnecessary.

"I think there's a lot of solutions to border security, but we shouldn't hold the American people hostage. I mean there are millions of people who are affected by the shutdown. The government needs to open and we're willing to talk," Haaland said.

But Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said when he was recently back in Wyoming that's not the message he heard. When specifically asked about this historic closure of the national parks and the broader Interior Department, he said he hasn't heard a complaint about it.

"One person after another after the next said, 'Build the wall. Stand with the president. Make sure we have border security. Border security is national security.'"

But Montana Democrat Jon Tester questions Barrasso's account.

"I think that's a false narrative. I'm not hearing that at all."

Tester said Montana voters want the government fully functioning, their federal parks open and more border security.

"They want to see the parks opened up, they want to see the federal workers put back to work and they want to see us negotiate on a good southern security policy and a good northern border security policy."

But right now Washington is just filled with bad blood so Republican leaders like Barrasso and Cheney remain skeptical that Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi are negotiating in good faith.

"The problem is the president asked her directly: 'If I open up the government then will you come to the table on a wall.' So this is all playing games and wasting time. The president isn't going to sign any of the bills they're putting on the floor."

While Cheney said she wants wall funding, she admitted she hates the shutdown.

"At the same time, people are working without pay. And that is just - you know Wyoming has got a lot of federal employees. And it's a situation we've got to be working to solve. We should never have people being asked to do things and they're not getting paid for it," Cheney said.

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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