Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said Monday that shutting down the government was Democrats’ “ultimate card” to compel Republicans to work with them in investigating possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
In a radio interview, Coons was asked specifically about Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats’ request that Attorney General Jeff Sessions testify before the committee again, after Sessions confirmed that he met twice with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign.
Sessions has since said he would recuse himself from campaign-related matters at the Department of Justice. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of that committee, said Friday that he would not ask Sessions to testify again about his meetings with the ambassador.
“We have no authority. Speaking as a Democrat in the minority on the Judiciary Committee, I can’t compel him to do anything,” Coons told public radio station WHYY, in an interview surfaced by CNN.
“If Republicans don’t step up and challenge some of these actions and some of these statements, they’ll be able to continue working along with the administration, and frankly, bury or stonewall this investigation,” he said. “So it’s critical to work with Republicans to help them recognize the centrality of this investigation to the rule of law, to the respect for our democracy, and to our future.”
Asked if Democrats had any way to compel Republican action, including not voting on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, Coons said that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “is regularly negotiating with Majority Leader McConnell over what we are willing to do or not do to shut down the government or shut down the Senate.”
“We’re Democrats. We don’t want to shut down the government. We actually think the government overall does good things for the American people,” he said. “When Sen. Cruz led a successful effort to shut down the government of the United States for 17 days, thousands of federal agencies and offices and functions shut down for several weeks. I heard very loudly and clearly from the people of Delaware, they don’t want us to do that.”
“That’s our ultimate card, is to threaten to shut down the government when we get to the end of the funding, that’s coming up fairly soon, the end of the continuing resolution. But that’s really the only card we’ve got.”
The continuing resolution funding the federal government is set to expire on April 28.