New U.S. Senator Rick Scott criticized Congressional Democrats today when discussing the partial federal government shutdown, now in its 25th day.
In his first live interview since being sworn in for office earlier this month, the former Florida governor and now U.S. Senator expressed frustration with the shutdown, but came down strongly in support of President Donald Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion to pay for a wall on the U.S.- Mexican border.
“The Democrats, I guess they think this is good politics, they won’t even negotiate with him,” Scott told Fox & Friends Tuesday morning. “You gotta work with people. I worked with my Legislature. Did I get it done exactly the way I wanted things done? No. But I knew they had to win and we had to win to get something done for my state.”
Left unsaid was that when Scott was negotiating with “his” Legislature, it was made up of fellow Republicans, who dominate state government in Tallahassee.
It’s different in Washington, where there is now divided government.
The shutdown began last month when Republicans were in control of both houses of Congress, but the standoff has only become more intense after Democrats officially took control of the House of Representatives two weeks ago.
Scott says the shutdown doesn’t make any sense, and he laid the blame on Democrats.
“A vast majority know we have to have border security and it’s important. They voted for it before. They want the government to open. But you can’t get it done. Then they say they want border security but gosh, ‘we don’t want barriers.’ How does that make any sense? And then they sit here and they keep getting paid, when they know other people who are out there working are not getting paid.”
More than 70 members of Congress have said they will forego any pay while the shutdown continues, including most recently Tallahassee-based Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, who placed blame with President Trump on Monday.
“The president is only thinking of himself and not the welfare of the American people,” Lawson said in a statement. “He needs to stop throwing this temper tantrum and re-open the government immediately.”
Scott, a multi-millionaire who chose to forego his $130,000 annual salary during his two terms as governor, has already announced he won’t collect the $174,000 salary that every U.S. Senator takes home.
Over the weekend, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the president should sign a stopgap spending bill to buy more time for discussions, but Trump has rejected that proposal. Scott said he understands why.
“Everybody ought to keep talking to see if there’s some way to get this done,” Scott said. “But as the Democrats say, ‘I don’t care if we come back up here, we’re still not going to talk about border security. We’re never going to talk about making sure that people are safe, then what do you do as the president? You say, ‘why would I waste my time meeting with people who are talking to people saying I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to take whatever action I can take on my own.’ But I think it’s important to talk to people, I think it’s important to see what can be done.”