- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture Committee says he would favor giving President Trump money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall as a way out of the government shutdown if there are “strings” attached to make sure the money is spent properly.

“I’m a committee chairman — so I’m in the room with the other leadership,” Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota said in an interview with KFGO radio posted online Tuesday. “And I told them, you guys are making a mistake. Give Trump the money…I’d give him the whole thing that he wants and put strings on it so that you make sure that he puts the wall where it needs to be.”

In a separate part of the interview, Mr. Peterson said he would give Mr. Trump “some” of the money, with strings attached, if he was in charge.

Mr. Peterson said both sides are now backed into a corner in the standoff over the wall, which has precipitated a partial government shutdown that’s now lasted for more than a month.

“Why are we fighting over this? We’re going to build that wall anyway at some time,” Mr. Peterson said. “They don’t want to give him a win. He doesn’t want to give Nancy [Pelosi] a win…the people suffering are the poor people that work for the government - these 800,000 people that are in limbo.”

Democratic leaders have said they could support additional border security measures, like tighter security at U.S. ports of entry — but have ruled out giving Mr. Trump the $5.7 billion he wants for wall construction.

“I don’t know that I want to give him a blank check, but I don’t want to preclude him from getting the money, either, if he’s going to use the money correctly and we get the other stuff that we need on the border as part of the deal,” Mr. Peterson said.

A moderate Democrat, Mr. Peterson represents Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, which Mr. Trump carried by about 30 points in 2016.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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