BLOOMINGTON — Bloomington-Normal's two congressmen hope Republican President Donald Trump won't follow through on a threat to shut down the federal government to force a compromise on immigration.
Republican U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Darin LaHood of Dunlap told The Pantagraph they support immigration reform, but not Trump's suggestion to "shut down government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for border security, which includes the wall" at the U.S.-Mexico border, as Trump posted to Twitter on Sunday.
"Congressman LaHood has continually stated that shutting down the government should never be used as a tactic to force through legislation," according to a statement from his office. "This tactic does not solve the issues at hand, but rather discourages bipartisan solutions from being passed."
Both compared the strategy to when Democrats shut down the government Jan. 20 — refusing to vote to fund services — to try to force action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which lets immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children stay. Democrats folded two days later.
"Congressman Davis wasn't for Democrats shutting down the government over immigration earlier this year and he wouldn't support it now," according to a statement from his office. "Congressman Davis hopes President Trump can work with Republicans and Democrats to find a solution on immigration and leave keeping the government open out of it."
Both said they've advocated for a better immigration system, including voting for a bill last month that would have provided a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and $25 billion for border security, including a wall. The bill failed overwhelmingly, 301 to 121, with Democrats and far-right Republicans opposed.
"Democrats don't seem to be serious about solving this issue because not a single one of them voted for either of these bills and too many Republicans let the perfect become the enemy of the good," according to Davis' statement.
Bloomington-Normal residents rallied last month outside Davis' uptown Normal office against Trump's policies that have separated children from parents at the border and in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.
The federal budget year ends Sept. 30, meaning a shutdown would start weeks before the Nov. 6 midterm election in which Republicans defend majorities in the House and Senate. Davis is opposed by Democratic fundraiser Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield, and LaHood faces Democratic Eureka College professor Junius Rodriguez.
Cook Political Report, which rates congressional races nationwide, last month moved Davis' 13th Congressional District seat from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican," a positive sign for his opponent in an election expected to favor Democrats nationwide. LaHood's seat is still rated "solidly Republican."
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and frequent opponent of Trump's policies, told The Pantagraph in a statement, "If Congress passes a pragmatic, bipartisan agreement to fund the government, Donald Trump should sign it instead of throwing a temper tantrum.”
“Not only is a border wall the least effective and most expensive way to secure a border, but if Trump succeeds in shutting down the government he would also put the livelihoods of those currently working to protect the border at risk," said Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran. "They, along with all hardworking civil servants who care for our veterans, run Medicare and Social Security — and our troops downrange— deserve better from their president."