Sen. Tammy Duckworth On President Trump, Federal Spending Bill | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Sen. Tammy Duckworth: President Trump's 'Fake National Emergency' Likely To Be Blocked By Courts

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the federal funding bill Congress passed Thursday night to avoid a government shutdown. 

But he also declared a national emergency in order to access $8 billion dollars in border wall funding.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., joined the Morning Shift to explain why she supports the compromise spending bill.


She said she hopes President Trump will “back down from his reckless threat to engage in an unprecedented abuse of presidential power by wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on a fake national emergency that will likely be blocked by the courts.”

On why she supports the compromise government funding bill

Sen. Tammy Duckworth: Well, number one, it's an agreement that we can sign off on so we can prevent another wasteful and unnecessary shutdown. It does help us to keep the government funded. It includes funding for 21st century technology on the border for border security — just under $1.4 billion — that's for more smart technology, more drones, all of that sort of stuff. And again, it allows us to get government going again. 

It would be not just foolish, but destructive to put our nation through yet another government shutdown.

On allocating 1.4 billion to secure the U.S.-Mexico border

Duckworth: This is what the experts tell us is the most appropriate way forward to secure our nation's border. It's not a medieval wall. What they need is more tech and more border patrol agents. So I'm responding to what I believe is what we need in order to truly secure our nation's borders, not to what the president promised on the campaign trail. He also promised that Mexico would pay for it, and he's not been successful in that.

On requesting a federal investigation of ethylene oxide emissions

Duckworth: Well, it's incredibly important to me to take on, not just because of the alarming instances of illnesses that are occurring as a result of the Willowbrook Sterigenics facility and all of the citizens who are there, who are suffering ... but also because ethylene oxide is being used across the country. And we need to make sure that this gas is a form of sterilizing equipment that is desperately needed for our health care facilities is not also injuring folks across the country. And frankly, right now the EPA has not done its job in terms of identifying what the toxic standards truly are and what we need to do to mitigate the exposure.

On why she voted no on William Barr for U.S. Attorney General

Duckworth: I have some real concerns that he is not an unbiased person. For example, he would not commit to recusing himself from the Russian interference/Muller investigation. I think that he is someone who ... I can't be sure he would act impartially, and frankly, I think we have far more and better qualified professionals here in this country who could hold that post ethically and impartially than Mr. Barr.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire conversation.

GUEST: U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

LEARN MORE: Trump Declares National Emergency To Help Fund Southern Border Wall (NPR 2/15/19)

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