Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday night that President Trump used his prime-time Oval Office address to "manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his Administration."
"The President of the United States – having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill – has shut down the government," Schumer said in a response delivered jointly with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "American democracy doesn’t work that way. We don’t govern by temper tantrum."
Schumer called on Trump to approve legislation ending the partial government shutdown "while allowing debate over border security to continue."
"We can re-open the government and continue to work through disagreements about policy," Schumer said. "We can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall. And, we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security. The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty-foot wall."
In her remarks, Pelosi said the president's statements during the partial shutdown have been "full of misinformation and even malice," and accused the administration of practicing "cruel and counterproductive policies" at the southern border.
"The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge," said Pelosi, adding that "President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must re-open the government."
Pelosi noted that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation to fully reopen the government last week, including a measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security that provides $1.3 billion for border security with no funding for the wall. Trump, who has repeatedly requested $5.7 billion for the wall, has said he will sign no such bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has repeatedly said he will not bring that legislation up for a vote in the upper chamber.
Neither Schumer nor Pelosi indicated whether they would meet with Trump at the White House, as the president requested in his remarks. Previous meetings have not led to any progress in breaking the deadlock.
In a separate rebuttal, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., spoke of the effect of the partial shutdown on federal employees, whom he said "deserve to be treated with respect, not held hostage as political pawns."
"President Trump has stated tonight, and, over and over again in recent weeks, that this country faces a national emergency," said Sanders, who is said to be considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. "Well, he’s right. But it’s an emergency and a crisis that he himself has created."
Sanders also accused Trump of "trying to create fear and hatred in our country ... and, in the process, divert our attention away from the real crises facing the working families of this nation," specifically citing income inequality, climate change, health care, and student debt.
"Mr. President, we don’t need to create artificial crises. We have enough real ones," Sanders said. "Let us end this shutdown and bring the American people together around an agenda that will improve life for all of our people."