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Arizona Sen. Sinema ready to bargain on border wall to end shutdown

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has joined a bipartisan group of legislators who planned to tell President Donald Trump in a letter they were willing to beef up border security if it would end the government shutdown.

A representative from Sinema’s office said Wednesday in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM that the senator had signed a draft of the letter.

The website Politico published a draft of the letter.

The letter read, in part:

As you know, on January 6, your Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought, submitted an appropriation request for addressing the humanitarian and security challenges at our nation’s southern border. …

We respectfully request that you join us in supporting a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) of three weeks to give Congress time to develop and vote on a bipartisan agreement that addresses your request. We commit to working to advance legislation that can pass the Senate with substantial bipartisan support.”

At least 800,000 federal workers have not been paid during the shutdown. A state labor website lists Arizona with about 56,000 federal workers.

The group of senators could grow to 20, with hopes of an even split between the parties.

The shutdown, brought on by a dispute between the White House and congressional Democrats on funding for a wall along the U.S. southern border, has reached 26 days.

Trump has asked for more than $5 billion to build a wall at the border with Mexico. Democratic leadership has also called for an end to the shutdown but will not budge on the demand for a wall.

Besides Sinema, other Democrats involved included Chris Coons of Delaware, who worked extensively with Sinema’s predecessor, Republican Jeff Flake; and Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.

Sinema, Arizona’s first elected female senator, was sworn into office two weeks ago. The freshman ran a campaign based partly on reaching across the aisle to cut through Washington gridlock.

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