Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, parting ways with almost all of his Republican colleagues, voted for the Democratic bill aimed at largely ending the government shutdown.
The eastern Oregon lawmaker, who took immediate heat from conservative supporters of President Donald Trump for his vote on Thursday, told OPB in an interview that it is a mistake to continue the shutdown while the president and congressional Democrats fight over whether to fund a border wall.
“I’m trying for the life of me to figure out why we would keep shuttered and furloughed the employees in Burns and Vale in the BLM offices,” Walden said, “or in John Day and the Forest Service. Or not pick up the trash around Crater Lake Park or the other national parks … . Why are they caught in this?”
Walden noted he did vote against another Democratic bill that provided temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security. That measure did not provide money for the wall. Walden said the president and congressional leaders can continue fighting over that issue without holding the rest of government hostage.
“I just thought as somebody representing more than just Republicans in Oregon, the right vote was to open these agencies and get these people back to work,” said Walden, “and have the fight where it belongs, which is over on Homeland Security [funding].”
Walden said his vote was not influenced by the more competitive re-election race he faced this year. While he won 56 percent of the vote in defeating Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the 20-year veteran of Congress has become accustomed to taking around 70 percent of the vote.
Ultimately, Walden said, “the country needs to come together and resolve and fix our broken immigration.”
He said he supported tougher border security provisions but also backs providing protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.