Reagan at a wall.
Reagan at the Berlin Wall, June 1987 (Reagan Library)

Reagan, Truman, Kennedy, Clinton and both Bushes made appearances in congressional speeches about the shutdown last week, and other speeches focused on the unprecedented facts of a shutdown starting under single-party control and of one starting a new term in Congress.

While most of the presidential references were for rhetorical effect, Mike Bost (R-IL) tried to reinforce the idea that you can’t negotiate with Democrats through a version of the Reagan-era immigration debate. In his telling, the Democrats got everything and Reagan never got the border security he’d been promised. In a remarkable attempt to establishe continuity, Bost claims that “it’s time to pass the funding” that had been promised to Reagan.

See what he did there? Now it’s not a fight for Trump, it’s a fight for Reagan.

Much more below, with heavy emphasis on dueling histories of the border, a link between health care and civil rights, and an appeal to the memory of the 1918 flu pandemic.

Rep. Hank Johnson: “We are not a country that cowers or bends in dread to a hostage taker. To quote President Truman: 'America was not built on fear.'”

Hank JohnsonWhat is not understood is that we are not a country that cowers or bends in dread to a hostage taker. To quote President Truman: “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” The job at hand for this President right now, and for this Congress, is to reopen the government.

–Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Reopen the Government, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Mike Bost: The border funding is something Reagan wanted, but lost out after negotiating with Democrats

Mike BostBut we can secure our border. It is an argument that has been going on in this House and in this Nation for some time. Many of you who are older will remember that Ronald Reagan actually argued and put forth the idea with Tip O’Neill, the idea that they would do immigration reform, which Tip wanted, as long as they could secure the border, which the President wanted. Tip O’Neill got what he wanted. The President didn’t get what he wanted, because the House didn’t pass the funding. Mr. Speaker, it is time we passed the funding. We have to end this shutdown, and we have to secure our border.

–Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Border Security, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry: “As President Kennedy once said, to govern is to choose wisely.... That actually manifests itself here in the people's House”

Jeff FortenberryThere is a twofold goal being sought by many of us right now, and it is this: to keep the government fully open and to secure our border. … We ought to be able to rise above the momentary difficulty … As President Kennedy once said, to govern is to choose wisely, and in a society divided by deep cultural and philosophical difficulties, that actually manifests itself here in the people’s House.

–Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Year-End Report, House Floor, January 9, 2019

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Rep. French Hill: When Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush proposed barriers, Congress built them

French HillPhysical barriers shape the strategic deployment of our force. That is why county judges support it, mayors support it, and our Border Patrol supports it. This is why, over the past 20 years, when President Bush proposed it, President Clinton proposed it, Bush 43 proposed it, and Obama supported it, we built fence, starting in San Diego.

–Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Border Security, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Adriano Espaillat: To paraphrase Reagan, “Mr. Trump, give up your wall”

My This Land Is Our Land Act will counter the many threats Trump has made to get his medieval and ineffective wall: It won’t allow him to build it on public land; it won’t allow him to take away people’s private land by using eminent domain; and, most importantly, it won’t allow him to use fake national emergencies. So let me finish by paraphrasing Ronald Reagan: Mr. Trump, give up your wall.

–Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), President Trump’s Threat to Declare a National Emergency to Build a Border Wall, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Mike Quigley: There has never been a shutdown “when one party was in control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives”

Mike QuigleyThe time for leadership, the time to not stymie ideas, and the time for functioning government is apparently gone. So we must act and we must act quickly. If we are talking history, let’s go a little further back. In the history of the United States, when one party was in control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, there has never been a shutdown until this administration.

–Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019, House Floor, January 9, 2019

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Rep. Dan Newhouse: “For the first time in history, we have begun a new Congress in the middle of a government shutdown”

Dan NewhouseWhat we are witnessing is extraordinary. In fact, it is unprecedented. For the first time in history, we have begun a new Congress in the middle of a government shutdown.

–Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019, House Floor, January 9, 2019

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Rep. John Shimkus: “A wall system works,” and for examples, look to the 1990s and early 2000s

John Shimkus A wall system works. Sections of the border where fencing and walls have been built have seen a decrease in illegal immigration. San Diego first built its wall in 1992. Illegal traffic dropped 92 percent over the past 23 years. El Paso built their fence in 1993. Illegal traffic dropped 72 percent in 1 year and 95 percent over 22 years. Tucson’s wall was built in 2000. Illegal traffic dropped 90 percent over 15 years.

–Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Do We Have a Crisis on the Southern Border or Not?, House Floor, January 9, 2019

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Rep. Gwen Moore: Is there really a crisis? “Border apprehensions are at lows not seen in nearly two decades”

Gwen MooreTo make his case, the President held a national press conference earlier this week to sell his made up “crisis” along the Southern border. A “crisis” that experts say is not happening. Border apprehensions are at lows not seen in nearly two decades. A “crisis” that experts say is not happening. Border apprehensions are at lows not seen in nearly two decades.

–Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Veronica Escobar: The border near El Paso, Texas, “has never been saver or more secure”

El Paso, like other border communities, is one of the safest communities in the country, with a rich history made strong by our bicultural, binational character. … This border unites our families and our values, and it promotes commerce and trade. The border has never been safer or more secure.

–Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Comprehensive Immigration Reform, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Anthony Brown: “The past two years have seen border crossings drop to a historic low”

What is this national emergency on the border that the President is so concerned and afraid of? The past two years have seen border crossings drop to a historic low.

–Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), End the Shutdown, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Vicky Hartzler: Last year more Americans died of a drug overdose than did in the entire Vietnam War

Vicky HartzlerLast year, sadly, more than 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. That is more than died in the entire Vietnam war, the entire war, and this happens every year.

–Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Border Security, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. James Clyburn: Affordable Care Act is the “Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century” and as MLK noted, inequality in health care is “the most shocking and inhumane” inequality of all

James ClyburnI rise today to support this resolution to intervene against the egregious Texas v. United States lawsuit that seeks to end the Affordable Care Act, or, as I like to call it, the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century. In a few days, we are going to be celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once said: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Since the ACA was enacted, significant progress has been made to lessen the inequality in our healthcare delivery system. To dismantle those lifesaving protections now is unfounded and unjust.

–Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Adopting the Rules of the House of Representatives for the 116th Congress, House Floor, January 9, 2019

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Rep. French Hill: Leaving Syria would be like Britain pulling out of “the Holy Land” and India, where it had “a role of stability”

French HillLeave [Syria], Mr. President, with no plan and no strategy, and they will hang their heads as they did during President Obama’s shameful abandonment.

Mr. Speaker, this unfortunate chapter unfolding in the tragedy known as Syria foreshadows an unflattering flashback to a time long ago when Great Britain abandoned a role of stability in the Holy Land and India. In 1948, Churchill rose in the House to oppose Prime Minister Atlee’s own unplanned precipitous withdrawal from the Holy Land, saying: ” A time limit imposed–a kind of guillotine–will certainly prevent the full, fair, and reasonable discussion of the great, complicated issues that are involved.”

Indeed, as Churchill foresaw, mayhem, terror, and destruction were the result of Britain’s precipitous withdrawal. It is said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Mr. President, let’s not repeat this historical mistake nor let our actions even result in a rhyme.

–Rep. French Hill (R-AR), U.S. Policy in Syria, House Floor, January 10, 2019

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Rep. Brett Guthrie: “The FDA's approval system for over-the-counter medications has not been updated since the 1970s”

Brett GuthrieOur healthcare system is innovating rapidly, and the Food and Drug Administration can’t keep up. The FDA’s approval system for over-the-counter medications has not been updated since the 1970s.

–Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Pandemic and all-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019, House Floor, January 8, 2019

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Rep. Michael Burgess: “It is paramount that we remember the significance of the 1918 influenza pandemic” while considering new public health law

Michael Burgess One hundred years ago, this country was in the midst of the worst pandemic in its history, claiming the lives of almost 700,000 Americans and killing more than 50 million people worldwide. As we discuss the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019, it is paramount that we remember the significance of the centennial anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

–Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Pandemic and all-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019, House Floor, January 8, 2019

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