Democratic Congressman-elect Antonio Delgado did not disappoint Wednesday when he said he is willing to work across the aisle to tackle the dysfunction in Washington. One of his campaign promises last year was bipartisanship, and we expect him to make good on this pledge. But Delgado takes office in the 19th District amid the impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump over funding for a wall on the border of the United States and Mexico. Delgado is walking straight into a political maelstrom.
Delgado took the oath of office in Washington, the 14th day of a partial federal government shutdown as Congress butts heads over a spending plan for the new year, specifically how to pass a budget that will ultimately earn the approval of a president who has taken a hard line on the necessity for $5 billion in funding for a border wall. Congress, meanwhile, has hardened its position against the president’s demand for wall funding and ramped up the showdown.
“Over the last weeks, our key focus has been to get our district operation up and running,” Delgado said Wednesday. “Accessibility and accountability are two of the most important things to me, and we need strong district operations for that. That’s why we’re setting up offices across the district and why I’ll hold a town hall in every county of the district over the next year.”
Delgado’s attention to accountability and accessibility, his plan to open offices across the 19th District and his goal of holding town-hall meetings in all district counties are admirable, but the rubber will meet the road when Delgado confronts this historic conflict between the executive and legislative branches. He wants to step into government dysfunction. This is it, at its apogee.
“The government shutdown is completely irresponsible and these repeated shutdowns exemplify the dysfunction that we need to change in Washington,” Delgado said, addressing the stalemate. Nobody wants government shutdowns, and nobody wants anything like this to happen again. It’s the job of the president and Congress to work this out; in political parlance, it’s known as compromise. If Delgado wants to reach across the aisle, he had better hurry, because the abyss between two powerful antagonists is widening fast.