Senate Democrats skipping Pence’s border trip

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Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they are not going on Vice President Pence’s trip to the U.S.-Mexico border this week.
Pence announced earlier this week that he was inviting a bipartisan delegation from the Judiciary panel to go with him on Friday to McAllen, Texas, which sits near the border in the Rio Grande Valley.
But nine of the 10 Democrats on the panel, or their staff, told The Hill that they are not going on the trip.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) — whose spokesman confirmed she would not go on the trip — suggested to CNN’s “New Day” that she viewed the Pence trip as political. {mosads}
“I don’t want to participate in what is basically the Trump show, the Trump-Pence show,” Hirono said. 
Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, confirmed that he was invited, but isn’t going. Asked if any Democrats on the committee were going, he added that he didn’t “know of any yet.” 
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a former chairman and currently a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, appeared unaware that Pence was planning to invite a bipartisan delegation from the committee. 

“Oh really? First I’m hearing about it,” he said.

Spokespeople for Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who are both running for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, as well as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), said the three senators will not go on the trip. 
A spokeswoman for Pence didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about who is attending or if there would be an effort to invite Democrats beyond the Senate panel.
Several senators indicated they had scheduling conflicts that would prevent them from going. 
Spokespeople for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) said their bosses had plans that conflicted with going on the trip. 
Asked if he was going, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “I don’t think I can make it.” 
A spokesperson for the panel’s 10th Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is also running for president, didn’t respond to questions about if he will go on the trip. 
The lack of Democratic participation comes after Pence announced on Monday that he would be visiting the border with a bipartisan delegation from the Judiciary Committee.

“On Friday, @SecondLady & I will travel to the U.S./ Mexico border at McAllen, TX with a bipartisan delegation of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the vice president tweeted Monday afternoon. “The Senate passed bipartisan humanitarian relief – but much more must be done to SECURE our border & end this crisis!”

Congress passed legislation to provide more than $4.5 billion in new border money, including nearly $3 billion in humanitarian aide. 
But the administration, and their Republican allies, argue further action is needed, including changes to the country’s asylum laws.
Pence has repeatedly called on Congress to act to improve conditions at the border. He said, “We’ve got to get to the root causes” of the reported conditions in border facilities in an interview last month.

“No American should approve of this mass influx of people coming across our border,” Pence told CNN. “I was at the detention center in Nogales, [Ariz.]. … It is a heartbreaking scene. These are people who are being exploited by human traffickers. … Congress has to act.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Chris Coons Christopher Coons Cory Booker Dianne Feinstein Dick Durbin Mazie Hirono migrant detention center Patrick Leahy Sheldon Whitehouse US-Mexico Border

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