Tensions Remain Following First Day Of Shutdown

Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

WASHINGTON–As both chambers of Congress adjourned Saturday evening, lawmakers remained at an impasse on a short-term spending bill needed to reopen the government.

Tensions between Republicans and Democrats remained high on the first day of the government shutdown, with congressional leaders holding strong on their demands and the respective parties trading barbs and casting blame over who was responsible for the lapse in funding.

Democrats blocked the passage of a four-week continuing resolution that included a six-year re-authorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and delayed a number of Obamacare taxes in the upper chamber late-Friday evening. Negotiations remained stalled throughout Saturday as Democrats voiced they wouldn’t back down from their refusal to support a stopgap that didn’t include an immigration deal to provide protections for DREAMers, foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors.

Republicans, who argue Democrats should support the CR as it doesn’t include any “poison pill” riders, accused their political counterparts of “shutting down the government over illegal immigration,” with top GOP lawmakers asserting talks wouldn’t resume on a bipartisan immigration deal until the shutdown is over.

“None of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can point to a single thing in it that they oppose. That is why a bipartisan majority voted for it last night. It would have passed smoothly and been sent on for the president’s signature. Except that the Democratic leader took the extraordinary step of filibustering this bipartisan bill and initiating his very own government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor Saturday. “Why? Because, he explains, the president would not give him everything he wants on the issue of illegal immigration in one afternoon in the Oval Office

House Speaker Paul Ryan highlighted the impact of the shutdown in an impassioned floor speech Saturday, calling on Senate Democrats to act on a clean CR before the close of the weekend.

“Half of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce has been furloughed. Training for Reserves has got to stop. Guardsmen have to be sent home. A number of states are going to run out of money for children’s health insurance,” he said. “And all of this, all of this, is completely unnecessary. But Senate Democrats believe none of it is too high a price to pay for appeasing their political base.”

Despite the lack of a concrete agreement, McConnell teed up a procedural vote on a CR that runs through Feb. 8 for 1 a.m. Monday morning, or sooner if Democrats oblige, in hopes they can reach a consensus before the effects of the shutdown are fully felt.

Democrats allege the White House has further muddled the negotiation process, arguing President Donald Trump has repeatedly reversed his positions, making it nearly impossible to strike a deal.

Schumer blasted the outcome of his meeting at the White House Friday, saying they neared an agreement with Trump after he conceded to the president’s call to provide federal funding for a wall along the southern border in exchange for a DACA fix only to later be rebuffed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney disputed Schumer’s claim he offered the president full funding, telling reporters Saturday the minority leader “mischaracterized” the discussion.

Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois said he believes the president is undercutting Republicans’ negotiation strategy, arguing his rhetoric on issues like DACA further the divide.

“I understand sometimes silence is not a bad thing in negotiation, but now we have people whose lives are hurt if we don’t keep the government running,” he told The Daily Caller.

Both chambers are expected to reconvene Sunday afternoon.

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