Hawley: America needs barriers, wall at southern border

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WASHINGTON - Democrats should work with Republicans to enhance border security, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said.

"We need to secure the border and we need to get on with the work of the United States Senate and of this country, and so I hope we can move forward," Hawley said in an interview with KOMU 8 News Tuesday.

Hawley said President Trump's decision to reopen the government without border funding shows the president is willing to negotiate.

Over the weekend, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he believes the chances lawmakers can strike a deal are “less than 50-50.”

Hawley said the chances ought to be 100 percent.

"What the president is asking for is what Democrats have already voted for," he said. "Democrats have already voted for border barriers along our southern border." 

Hawley, who supports the wall and barriers at the border, called the president's demand for one reasonable.

"We're talking about a targeted system of barriers that has been proven to work," he said.

A group of lawmakers from both parties is working to negotiate a border security agreement and prevent another government shutdown. Members, who include Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., met for the first time Wednesday. 

"It's important to keep the government open, but it's also important to meet our responsibilities to secure the border," Blunt said.

In the Rose Garden on Friday, Trump said he expects the lawmakers to operate in "good faith."

He added: "We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency."

Blunt said it is important lawmakers come to a conclusion that's signed into law. He said doing that means not everyone will get what they want. 

"We've got to be sure that we are looking at that as the end result. We've got to figure out how to make this work. I think we can," he said.

KOMU 8 News' interview with Hawley covered several other topics.

He said the president's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, has a good grasp on what the job entails.

"He's a decision maker. He's a guy who's not afraid to make decisions, who is not afraid to give clear direction. That's what the department needs," said Hawley, who sits on the committee that will vote on Barr's nomination.

As for the president's State of the of the Union address on Tuesday, Hawley said he hopes to hear about the president's plans for border security, economic growth and lowering health care costs.