Speaking on 'Fox News Sunday,' White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says negotiations with Democrats on border security funding and the wall are making progress, but there's still a long way to go.
CHRIS WALLACE: And joining me now here in the studio, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Sarah, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Great to be with you.
WALLACE: So. What is the latest on the negotiations? Did they make any progress yesterday?
SANDERS: Well, they made some progress yesterday. The fact that they’re sitting down at the table is some progress, in and of itself. But, they’ve got a long way to go. I mean, Democrats set down, the first thing that one of the individuals from the Democrats’ side said in the meeting was "We’re not here to make an agreement" so this is the beginning of a conversation that still has I think a lot left to be worked out. They’re going to meet again later this afternoon and hopefully they’ll continue to make progress and continue to move the ball down the field.
At the end of the day, though, Democrats have said over and over again that they support border security, that they support protecting American citizens -- now it’s time to fulfill some of those statements that they’ve made -- work with the president, let’s get this done; let’s open the government back up.
WALLACE: Well, the question is… is the wall the best way to do it? I’m going to ask you about that in a minute. But again, going back to Friday, the president meant what he said, that he is prepared to fight for the wall, to continue the shutdown for months or even years?
SANDERS: Well, I think that’s one of the things that people misunderstand. The president’s not fighting for the wall; he’s fighting for the protection of American citizens.
WALLACE: But he wants the wall to do that.
SANDERS: Absolutely. He wants the wall and he wants a number of other things. We have a completely broken immigration system. We have a national crisis, not just of safety and security, but a humanitarian crisis. We have drugs, we have human traffickers, we have terrorists that come across our border and there has to be a stop to that and we want to do -- not just the wall; certainly that’s one of the most important factors. We know that it works; we know that in the places that it’s been, it’s 95 percent effective.
We want to be effective across the board and that includes the wall and other technology along the…
WALLACE: But you’re not answering my question. He meant what he said. He’s prepared to continue this fight, the shutdown, for months or even years?
SANDERS: Absolutely, the president means what he says when he says that. But it would be outrageous for Democrats who agree with the president -- that’s what’s the most outrageous thing to me, and something that frankly is so just… incomprehensible -- they agree with the president. They agree that we need border security. They just are unwilling to let this president win. And I think at some point they have to decide that they care more about Americans than fighting the president. And so far we haven’t seen a willingness on their side to fully do that.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about caring about Americans. Because House Democrats this week passed six bills that would fund eight agencies, unrelated to Homeland Security, unrelated to the wall, that would get them back going right now. And the question is, why not sign that bill? Fund those agencies that have nothing to do with the border wall, and not hold those hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and the services they provide, hostage.
SANDERS: We’re not holding anybody hostage. The president wants to fund the government; he wants to open the government --
WALLACE: But you could open those eight other agencies.
SANDERS: Chris, we’ve been having this debate for years. At some point we have to say, enough is enough. Until we can come together, we can be reasonable, which we have put forth in good faith multiple offers to Democrats to say, let’s make a deal. Let’s have a discussion; let’s get to a place where we agree. We have to stop kicking the can down the road and just continuing to say, Let’s do it again in 30 days. Let’s do it in 45 days.
Let’s do it now,
WALLACE: No-no-no. But do you -- but I’m not talking about Homeland Security. That… do you continue to fight about that? If you want, you shut it down -- but why hold Agriculture hostage? Why hold Justice hostage? Why hold the Treasury Department hostage? Why not fund them? They have nothing to do with a border wall.
SANDERS: The president wants to do this all at once. He knows it’s better if they can focus on getting all of these packages done at one time.
WALLACE: Isn’t the real reason, because you want the leverage from all the agencies?
SANDERS: It’s not just -- it’s not that. But you also have to look at the six bills. Those aren’t the budget that we submitted, either. There are a lot of discrepancies between what we --
WALLACE: Those have all been approved by Republicans in the Senate.
SANDERS: They have. I’m not saying we oppose those six. I’m just saying, to make it like this is an easy deal; we want to be able to negotiate, but at the same time you can’t just keep passing the buck. This is a major point of contention. and let’s just sit down and work it out.
WALLACE: Okay. But if this shutdown lags on, not months or years, but even in to February, it’s going to start to hurt real people. Take a look at this, Sarah. Federal tax refunds will be delayed. Food stamps for 38 million Americans will be cut. Millions of people will lose rental assistance payments and union leaders say hundreds of TSA workers are already off the job because they can’t afford to get to work. President Trump thinks the border wall is worth all of that?
SANDERS: Look. The president certainly doesn’t want any of those things to happen. But you know what else he doesn’t want to see happen? He never wants to make a phone call like the one he made earlier this week, where he spoke to Officer Singh of California’s widow because an illegal immigrant came up off their border and killed him in cold blood. This shouldn’t happen in this country, particularly when we have things that we know can help prevent it.
Every life -- that’s what sets America apart from every other country; we value life. That it’s what makes us unique. And the day that we stop doing that, even if it’s one, 10 or 100,000, that’s when we stop being the greatest country on the face of this earth. Not only people like that, but we also have a massive influx of drugs that come across the southern border. Ninety percent of the heroin that comes into this country comes across through the southern border and 300 Americans are killed from that every single month.