Congress seeks way to end government shutdown

Congress seeks way to end government shutdown

Jan. 20 (UPI) — Hours after the government shut down because a stop-gap spending bill failed, Congress was figuring out how to end the stalemate.

The U.S. Senate didn’t get the necessary 60 votes to approve a temporary spending bill through Feb. 16 that doesn’t protect nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. Fifty Senators approved the measure and 49 were opposed less than an hour before the midnight deadline as a few members from from both parties voted with the other side.

Members of both parties are planning weekend sessions.

The House, which passed its measure Thursday by a 230-197 vote was scheduled to reconvene at 9 a.m. and the Senate at noon Saturday. House Republicans and Democrats planned for separate caucus meetings at 10 a.m. Saturday to kick off private talks.

President Donald Trump remained in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, canceling a weekend trip to Palm Beach, Fla., where he had scheduled a fundraising party at his Mar-a-Lago oceanside club to celebrate the anniversary of his inauguration.

Both sides are blaming each other, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York calling it the Trump shutdown and Republicans and Trump calling it the Schumer shutdown.

“This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present,” Trump posted on Twitter.

His first post of the day came minutes earlier at 6:17 a.m.: “Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead.”

The government was shut down, except for essential services, for the first time in four years. In 2013, the government shut down for 13 days when more than 850,000, “non-essential” federal workers had to stay home, though they ultimately were paid for their time off.

Essential services will continue to function, including the U.S. mail, issuance of Social Security checks, air traffic control and screening and the military. The National Zoo and the Smithsonian museums will close starting Monday.

On Friday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the impact could be limited before government offices open Monday.

The two sides don’t differ on spending, but whether to include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a pathway for young undocumented immigrations brought to the United States by their parents.

The Democrats and a few Republican allies refused to vote for the bill in an attempt to force Republicans to negotiate.

Outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who voted against the spending bill, predicted the Senate will agree on a spending bill that would restore government functions through Feb. 8. Before that deadline, he hoped, McConnell would revisit a bipartisan bill from Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Trump voiced his displeasure with that bill last week in a rant targeted at African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

The White House said after the shutdown they would not negotiate over immigration until Congress restores government funding.

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement after the vote. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.”

In another tweet, Trump said more Republicans are needed in the Senate: “For those asking, the Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, and they need 60. That is why we need to win more Republicans in 2018 Election! We can then be even tougher on Crime (and Border), and even better to our Military & Veterans!”

In the meantime, Republicans need help from Democrats to pass legislation in the Senate.

Schumer called for a White House summit between congressional leaders and Trump to hash out a broad deal that also deals with immigration, spending caps and disaster relief.

“The president and the four leaders should immediately sit down and finish this deal so the entire government can get back to work on Monday,” Schumer said.

Like the president, McConnell blamed the Democrats.

“A government shutdown was 100 percent avoidable,” McConnell said on the floor. “Completely avoidable. Now it is imminent. Perhaps across the aisle some of our Democratic colleagues are feeling proud of themselves, but what has their filibuster accomplished? . . . The answer is simple: Their very own government shutdown.”

Schumer said Trump walked away from a deal on immigration during a meeting at the White House Friday afternoon.

“He walked away from two bipartisan deals, including one today in which I even put the border wall on the table. What will it take for President Trump to say yes and learn how to execute the rudiments of government?” Schumer said.

In a Washington Post poll released Friday, 48 percent of respondents said Trump and congressional Republicans would be mainly responsible for the shutdown while 28 percent faulted Democrats.

But a CNN survey released Friday that found 56 percent of polled voters believed that passing a budget to avoid a shutdown is more important than an agreement to help Dreamers.


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