Politics

Congress Passes Short-Term Spending Bill, Gov’t Slated To Reopen

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

The government is expected to reopen after the House passed a two-and-a-half week spending bill Monday evening after days of tensions between Democrats and Republicans.

On day three of the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to garner enough support to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to pass continuing resolution — which includes a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a delay of numerous Obamacare taxes — after assuring Democrats he would allow for “free and open debate” on an immigration measure that provides protection for DREAMers.

Democrats blocked a four-week House-passed measure Friday evening, leading to the first government shutdown since 2013. The party argued they could not support any funding bill that didn’t include a legislative fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors.

Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s assurance, he is willing to put an immigration bill on the floor before the Feb. 8 deadline to write and pass a budget, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his caucus was willing to back the bill. House Democrats continued to withhold their support over DACA.

Its passage comes after contentious negotiations, with members of both parties pointing fingers over who was responsible for the lapse in government funding.

Top lawmakers in both parties pointed finger over who was responsible for the lapse in government funding, with Republicans dubbing it the “Schumer Shutdown,” alleging Democrats were withholding support from the must-pass bill over illegal immigration. Democrats fired back, saying dysfunction in the Trump administration made it nearly impossible to break the impasse and arguing Republicans had ample time to work out a bipartisan immigration deal.

A group of more than 20 moderates in the Senate helped overcome the stalemate, spending days negotiating a bipartisan deal to present to leadership. Members of the group said they are hopeful the comraderie would continue as they continue to work out a budget deal and a plan on immigration that can pass both chambers.

While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was looking for a commitment on a DACA vote from GOP leadership, it’s still unclear whether a Senate bill will make its way to the lower chamber.

Top Senate lawmakers are looking to use a bipartisan blueprint — which was presented to President Donald Trump two weeks ago —  crafted by the “gang of six” — GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey — as a jumping off point to construct a plan to address DACA that will receive broad support. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — one of the top four negotiators alongside House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Durbin working with the administration on crafting an immigration bill — said he doesn’t think the Durbin-Graham proposal is the right course of action.

“I don’t think if you narrow the field of who’s putting it together when you have a full body and a full body over there, I think that’s not a recipe for success,” he told reporters. “I think having these meetings that we have, where you have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the Republicans you have the Democrats, you have the House — that to me is a much better structure that you can get a bill that actually it can become law.”

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