While meeting with constituents at a town hall on the campus of Richland College Sunday, freshman Democratic Congressman Colin Allred said he is optimistic another shutdown can be avoided.
"I'm still hopeful this bipartisan commission is going to be able to reach an agreement, that it will get enough support to pass the House and the Senate," Allred told the town hall attendees. "We need the president to sign it and we need to get to work on other things."
Sunday, the White House said it couldn't rule out another shutdown. President Trump has asked for $5.7 billion to fund expansion of the border wall along the U.S. and Mexico border. Talks are centered around $1.6 billion. Lawmakers face a Feb. 15 deadline when parts of the federal government could shut down for a second time since December.
"I'm hopeful because that's what the American people want and I'm hopeful because I don't think we're actually that far apart," Allred told NBC 5.
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Allred took questions from people who gathered for one of his first town halls since he was sworn into office on Jan. 3. At least 200 people attended in person to hear Allred answer questions submitted in writing.
During the hour-and-a-half-long town hall, one question brought some chuckles as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins read from the card submitted by an audience member.
"Did you feel Beto O'Rourke could have been our Texas senator and could he still be?" Jenkins read.
"I am here in my capacity as your member of Congress. I am not here as a Democrat or a Republican. I'm not here to talk about politics in any way, shape, form or fashion," Allred said. "I'm thankful for Congressman O'Rourke's service when he was in Congress and I'm hopeful he can continue to lead."
Allred unseated longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions in a hotly contested election last November.
Sunday, he frequently talked about his efforts to reach across the aisle. Allred pointed out policies he and President Trump agreed on, including recognizing the opposition leadership in Venezuela and putting pressure on Nicolás Maduro to resign. Though Allred told town hall attendees he does not support U.S military intervention.
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When asked about the border wall, Allred said, "I don't think that it is in the American interest or this district's interest for us to spend billions and billions on an ineffective wall that will not do the job it was intended to do."
Instead, Allred said he would like to see Coast Guard enforcement expanded, along with more manpower at airports. He said border security and a border wall are not the same and security would mean investing in technology and "person power."
Allred's team said Allred was working in-district this week as he awaited the birth of his first child with his wife, Alexandra Eber.