Representative John Curtis Blames Dems For Ongoing Shutdown
John Curtis is the US Congressman from District 3 which includes Wasatch County. He’s introduced a No Work, No Pay Bill in Congress and has voluntarily withheld pay while the Government shutdown continues. This is the first in a series of reports on Curtis’ efforts in Congress since his election in 2017. Carolyn Murray has this:
John Curtis won the District 3 special election in 2017 after Jason Chaffetz resigned in June of that year. Curtis went on to win the general election in November of 2018. While his colleague, Congressman Rob Bishop called the bill a side show and silly, Curtis said the response has been varied and that many Republicans support his bill.
“There are a number who feel as I do and who have voluntarily withheld their pay. I think fro each congressman, it’s a deeply personal issue and they all deal with it in a way that works best for them. I know, for me, there’s just no way I can feel comfortable with constituents in my district not having an option and not having a say in this and we’re withholding their pay. And, for me, it just doesn’t seem right to have a situation that’s any different from theirs.”
He said he doesn’t know how many people from his district are affected by the partial government shutdown. Bureau of Labor statistics from 2013 shows Utah has between 1 and 2 percent of the 2 million federal workers throughout the US.
Curtis said the House Democrats have not weighed in on his No Work, No Pay bill and he said they also haven’t put forward any solutions to the shutdown.
“I haven’t heard anything at all from the Democrats. I do feel like, particularly where they have a majority in the house, they’ve got a heavy burden on their shoulders and we’re all waiting anxiously for them to put something forward. It feels like the Democrats are in a position of not being willing to talk and not being able to put anything forward to give a basis for agreement.”
Curtis believes the onus now falls on Democrats to propose a border funding solution, but said it was frustrating that the Congress couldn’t find a solution in 2018, when they held the majority in the House.
“That’s one that’s frustrated the President. As you know, the house did. We put a bill through that included the funding for the wall. And it did not respond to that and now we’re in a new congress”
He supports the wall as part of the solution to securing the border, along with other mechanisms to manage immigration.
“..to me, first of all it’s (the wall) far more complicated than that. I think the argument to boil it down to a wall, yes or no... Part of the reason that we’re in this stalemate…throughout my district, everybody agrees, we need to invest in the border. We just have a lot of unfortunate situations there and some of what the president is starting to put forward I think answer that. He’s willing to put money into humanitarian needs, more immigration judges, technology. All of those things I think are part of the answer to the border and yes, creating a barrier I think that needs to be part of it as well.”
The President calls the immigration situation a crisis on the border. Curtis said:
"Well, crisis is always in the eye of the beholder. We tend to use that word in politics when we want to draw people’s attention to it. But, I can tell you if you look at individual situations, it’s certainly a crisis to many individuals.”
He said there aren’t enough resources at the border to manage the numbers of immigrants claiming asylum.
“We have people showing up, claiming asylum and who are doing it under false pretenses and for every one of those, it’s making it more difficult for the ones genuinely seeking asylum to have the help that they need. I don’t think we have adequate resources down there to be able to give everyone of those fair consideration."
He has not visited the southern border since he was elected to Congress but said there are shared objectives for addressing immigration problems, from both sides of the aisle.
“You know, I mentioned the humanitarian needs, the border patrol agents, the immigration judges, additional facilities. All of these help us to handle the border in a more humane and dignified manner and I think that’s important to all of us.”
Curtis has done over 100 town halls and is hosting another scheduled for Tuesday, January 22 at the Provo Rec Center at 320 West 500 North at 7pm.
Our next report will cover his criticism for the White House trade strategy, especially as the newly imposed tariffs have affected many of his 3rd district constituents.