Jon Kyl: Trump shouldn’t take all blame for government shutdown
PHOENIX — One of Arizona’s outgoing U.S. senators gave his first news conference Wednesday since being sworn in to succeed the late Sen. John McCain in September.
Jon Kyl said job one for the next Congress must be to end the partial federal government shutdown, which President Donald Trump can’t do alone.
“I know he took the blame for shutting down the government, but I think he took on a little more blame than he deserves,” Kyl told reporters in Phoenix.
Kyl said Congress must find a balance between funding a physical border wall, more security technology and more patrol personnel.
Kyl also agreed with an op-ed from new Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah that was critical of the president.
“Speak out when you don’t agree with the president, but also support him when you can,” Kyl said. “That’s what I tried to do in the time that I served.”
Kyl, who had retired from the U.S. Senate in 2013 after serving three terms of his own, had some advice for Arizona’s two new senators: Beating the partisan gridlock in Washington starts at home.
“Try to rejuvenate that sense of working together as a delegation, especially on the Arizona-specific issues,” like public lands and water rights, he said.
Kyl also told Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally there’s a big divide not just between their parties, but between House and Senate.
“You just never have time to do all the things you want to do, including walking across the Rotunda and visiting with the other body,” he said.
Sinema beat McSally in a closely contested general election in November for the seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, who didn’t seek re-election.
On Dec. 14, Kyl told Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey he would step down Dec. 31. Ducey appointed McSally to serve the next two years of McCain’s term.
Voters will choose the person to fill out the final two years of McCain’s term in a 2020 special election.
Upon his second retirement from the Senate, Kyl said he wants to return to teaching at Arizona State University.
Legally, he cannot return to lobbying for two years.