COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Millions tuned in to watch President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address. In the lengthy speech, he repeatedly called for unity but made few declarations to move in that direction. So, what does a divided Congress do next?
This week, the president called for Congress to fund a border wall, spend more money on infrastructure and end its investigations into his administration, but lawmakers remain split over those issues and more.
House Democrats say the speech did nothing to bridge the gap between parties and that a deal on Trump’s long-promised border wall remains out of reach. Republicans jumped to support Trump’s demand that the investigations into his administration and finances end, but Democrats say they have no plans to give up their oversight and will allow the investigation to continue. With the temporary deal that ended the last government shutdown set to expire on Feb. 15, many fear the country is headed towards yet another shutdown.
However, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman remains hopeful that a shutdown won’t happen.
“We don’t have to head that way, because we’re really not far apart in terms of border issues,” he said. “The president does not have a wall from sea to sea; he has a proposal to follow the border patrol experts’ advice to put 234 miles of additional fencing of various kinds in parts of the border where it’s needed.”
Portman also said Republicans and Democrats have “practically identical” views on additional border security measures like hiring more border patrol agents, using the funding to deploy technology like drones and cameras to help secure the border, implementing more extensive screening for those entering the country and stepping up humanitarian efforts.
“If we can get the politics and the rhetoric out of this I think we can come up with a way to find some common ground,” he said. “My fervent hope is that we get there in the next week.”
Earlier in the week, Portman announced he would support the president in a re-election bid, and some critics say that endorsement is too soon. Many still have unanswered questions, particularly about the Russia investigation, but Portman is standing by Trump.
“Obviously there’s many things that could happen, including him not running at all,” Portman explained. “Right now, I intend to support him — he is the incumbent —and we work very closely with the administration on many issues, including the opioid issue.”
Portman cited the administration’s support on other issues too, saying that 50 of the bills he has worked on have been signed into law in the last two years. But, he didn’t give the administration complete credit for those, and he’s optimistic about getting things done even with a divided Congress.
“We did it by working with Democrats here in the Congress, which I’m continuing to do,” he said.