Democrats demand air time to counter Trump’s border speech

Democratic leaders are demanding “equal airtime” for a response to President Trump’s address planned for Tuesday night.

“Now that the television networks have decided to air the President’s address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement on Monday night. 

{mosads}All major networks have confirmed they will air Trump’s Oval Office address after some initial uncertainty over how the organizations would handle the speech announced Monday. CBS said in a statement to The Hill that the White House informed the network it will last no longer than eight minutes.

CBS later said Democrats have officially requested time on the networks to respond to Trump’s speech, but provided no further information on whether the rebuttal would be aired live.

CNN said the network will carry the Democratic response live.

Trump is expected to use the speech to make his pitch on the border wall fight, which is at the center of a weeks-long government shutdown. He is also set to travel to the border on Thursday. The television address comes only weeks before Trump’s end-of-the-month State of the Union speech.

Trump and Congress remain stalemated over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, with the president digging in for his demand for more than $5 billion. Talks over the weekend that included Vice President Pence and congressional leadership staffers made no progress to resolve the funding fight. 

Schumer and Pelosi blasted Trump in their statement on Monday night, saying he has the “power to stop hurting the country” by “ending the Trump Shutdown.”  

“Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans in Congress have repeatedly urged the President and Leader McConnell to end the Trump Shutdown and re-open the government while Congress debates the President’s expensive and ineffective wall,” they added. 

House Democrats passed a package last week that would fully reopen the 25 percent of federal government impacted by the shutdown. One bill would have funded the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, while funding the rest of the impacted parts of the government through Sept. 30. 

“On Day One of the new Congress, the House passed bipartisan legislation that honors our responsibility to protect the American people with funding for smart, effective border security solutions — just not the President’s wasteful and ineffective wall,” Schumer and Pelosi added in their statement.

They’re expected to start passing individual appropriations bills this week as they try to increase pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

McConnell is refusing to take up any government funding bill not supported by Trump. The Senate previously passed a seven-week stopgap bill that would have prevented the partial shutdown but were caught by surprise when Trump refused to support the measure. 

Brett Samuels contributed to this article, which was updated at 10:53 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi
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