Luria wants government open first before border wall talks


PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY/NBC/AP) — Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) says she is not willing to vote for border wall funding until the government is back open.

Luria made the remark Friday in a sit down interview with 10 On Your Side, the same day she introduced the Shutdown Relief Act, a bipartisan bill to provide financial relief to federal workers.

“This is not the way Congress is supposed to function,” Luria said, “We have voted nine times to reopen the government. So the Senate is not bringing these bills to the floor for a vote because the president threatens not to sign them.”

The shutdown is the longest ever. President Trump wants $5.7 billion to help fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Democrats, including Luria, oppose.

“We need to get the government open first. So everyone is pushing. We need to get the government open, then talk about the broader issues of border security,” Luria said.

In the meantime, Luria said she is encouraged that the president restored back pay for some 800,000 federal workers who have already missed a paycheck while keeping the government closed.

“We’re in a challenging time,” Luria said. “It’s unfortunate that we are in the situation that all of our efforts are focused on reopenning the government than all the other things we need to work on for the American people.”

On Thursday, Trump halted a congressional delegation’s trip, that included Congresswoman Luria, as lawmakers were preparing to leave for Joint Base Andrews, arguing that lawmakers should be in Washington ready to negotiate an end to the federal government shutdown that has continued since Dec. 22. The letter came a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) told the president that he should delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address or submit it in writing.

Luria, a freshman Democrat who defeated incumbent Scott Taylor to win the race for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District this past November, called the president’s actions “innapropriate.” 

“The President’s comment that lawmakers visiting Afghanistan is a ‘public relations event’ is an insult to the brave men and women serving in harm’s way,” Congresswoman Luria said. “As a 20-year Navy veterannew member of the House Armed Services Committeeand new member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, it is my duty to support our troops and learn everything I can about their mission. Oversight is the responsibility of Congress, and it is inappropriate for the President to interfere with our constitutional duties.”

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