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If Government Shuts Down, 'I Blame It On The Democrats,' Arizona GOP Rep. Says

Republican candidate for Congress Debbie Lesko celebrates her victory during an election night event for Arizona GOP candidates on Nov. 6, 2018 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Congress Debbie Lesko celebrates her victory during an election night event for Arizona GOP candidates on Nov. 6, 2018 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
This article is more than 4 years old.

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll shows 57 percent of people surveyed want President Trump to compromise on the border wall and reach a deal, including about 30 percent of Republicans.

One of the people who will vote on the funding plan is Republican Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, who represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District. Lesko told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson before Trump's meeting Tuesday with Democratic leaders that Republicans have been "compromising all along" on immigration.

"I think it's time that [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Democrats compromise with us," Lesko (@RepDLesko) says.

Interview Highlights

On ongoing efforts to come to an agreement with Democrats on immigration legislation

"I cosponsored and voted for what's called the Goodlatte No. 1 immigration bill, which would have not only provided the funding for a border wall and more agents and more technology, but it also would have allowed the DACA recipients to stay here legally. So it would have solved that problem. It's really unfortunate that not one single Democratic congressman or woman voted for it. The bill failed, so when we talk about compromise, I've already been willing to compromise.

" ... If it goes into a shutdown, I blame it on the Democrats. The majority of the people in my district, the majority of the people in the nation, want a secure border. They want to know who's coming here."

On directing spending toward helping Central American countries, as Mexico is doing, instead of toward a border wall

"I certainly think we can do both. We can help other economies so that their citizens want to stay there. But the countries have to help themselves. Part of the compromise needs to be funding to secure the border. Now that includes a wall, it also includes more border security. I've gone down to the border in the Nogales area of Arizona, and the Border Patrol agents have told me directly that one of the things they need is a wall or fence or whatever you want to call it.

"We're a very loving nation. We already allow legally about a million legal immigrants to come into our country each and every year. That's more than one congressional district a year we're adding with legal immigrants. So I'm compassionate, especially for the women and children that are traipsing thousands of miles to get to a better life. But we also need to make sure that our laws aren't used to be exploited by cartels that are abusing these people."

On Time magazine naming Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists targeted for their work as Person of the Year, amid Trump calling the press "the enemy of the people"

"I don't think that we should be targeting the media. However, I do think ... and I have witnessed personally where some media have reported falsely on things that I've been involved in. So I do think that is a disservice to the American public.

"I do not believe journalists are the enemy of the people. But I would encourage journalists to make sure that they check all the facts and at least call the congresswoman or congressman that you're going to talk about. That's another thing — they usually don't even call. They just report things that are just inaccurate without even talking to us."

On the number of female House Republicans declining from 23 to 13 in the next Congress, and whether the GOP is falling behind on representing women

"We are, we have to do a better job. ... I usually don't talk about women versus men, I just talk about who's the most qualified. Certainly the women that are currently serving in Congress, whether they're Democrat or Republican, are good people that want to help their constituents. But certainly, over 50 percent of the public that votes is women. Republicans need to do a better job of recruiting women and then helping them once ... they're there. And that is going to be one of the focuses that I'm going to work on."

Jill Ryan produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Jack Mitchell adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on December 11, 2018.


Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.



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