Watch: Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth struggles to justify Dems’ stance on border wall

January 7, 2019

Watch: Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth struggles to justify Dems’ stance on border wall Maxim Blinkov /

A Democratic congressman recently admitted that President Donald Trump’s border wall would secure the border — and conceded that $5 billion isn’t too much to ask for it.

In an interview on The Hill’s Rising on Friday, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) struggled to rationalize his party’s opposition to the wall, given their recent support of spending billions of dollars more than what Trump is asking for border security funding on similar fencing.

The infamous wall

Rep. Yarmuth conceded that some of the Democrats’ central arguments against the wall — namely, that it is too expensive and would be ineffective — are lacking in substance. Indeed, there’s no need to go digging through ancient history to find examples of Dems approving more than Trump’s $5 billion for border security funding.

Even Yarmuth, who chairs the House Budget Committee, pointed out that Democrats “were willing to give $25 billion for border security, just a year ago, in exchange for a deal on DACA.” President Trump has also observed that the Democrats recently voted to send billions overseas in foreign aid, but not one cent to secure the border, making it clear that money isn’t the issue.

Additionally, knocking the argument that Dems feel the wall wouldn’t work, Senate Democrats voted unanimously in 2013 to spend nearly $50 billion on hundreds of miles in fencing and other border security measures, and in 2006, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Dems voted for the Secure Fence Act, which would have put $50 billion over the course of 25 years toward building a border fence. If Democrats supported some form of physical barrier in the past, then it’s hard to rationalize their argument that an even more secure physical barrier would be less effective now.

Attempting to explain his party’s position, Yarmuth said that Trump is not a reliable negotiator and that the Democrats do not think the wall is “a decision that’s based on any realistic assessment of what is actually security.” Rising host Buck Sexton then pressed the congressman to explain why his party insists that walls don’t work when border patrol and ICE have told him “unequivocally” that they do.

“So why do we keep hearing members of the Democratic Congress come forward saying that it wouldn’t work and it’s stupid, when not only do we have the people who are actually in charge of border security saying it would work and it’s not stupid, we can see that it already does work in places where there is a wall?” Sexton asked Yarmuth, who conceded: “That’s exactly right.”

“But we don’t know where he’s going to put the wall,” Yarmuth continued, seeming to get confused. “He already has $1.3 trillion—er, $1.3 billion that he’s only spent 6 percent of that was given to him for border security and he hasn’t used that. So the question is, do you just say, ‘Okay, $5 billion, take it?'”

“Maybe that’s the right idea,” Yarmuth conceded. “Maybe just give him the $5 billion because he won’t use it anyway.” Take a look at the full discussion:

Can an inanimate object be immoral?

If money is not the issue, and Democrats voted for border security in the past, then it’s difficult to explain the Democrats’ reasoning other than by assuming that they’re against it on principle. Indeed, Nancy Pelosi’s recent claim that the wall is “immoral” probably comes closest to an honest argument that the Democrats have against the wall — they just don’t want borders.

But speaking with Fox on Saturday, Yarmuth disagreed with Pelosi, saying: “I don’t know that an inanimate object can be immoral, so I probably would differ on that characterization.”

Yarmuth went on to suggest that Democrats and Republicans could still strike a deal to trade the wall for protection for the so-called “Dreamers,” protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

“There’s a lot of pride right now that’s probably adversely affecting a settlement on both sides, and nobody wants to cave,” he said. “But I think a deal where there’s at least temporary working permits for Dreamers for several years, that kind of a relationship if you’re not going to solve the Dreamer problem for us, some amount of money for border security is an easy deal to make.”


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.