The leader of the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority on Sunday dismissed the possibility that the government could shut down later in the week when funding runs out.
“Look, there’s not going to be a government shutdown. It’s just not going to happen,” Senator Mitch McConnell told ABC’s “This Week.”
Congress faces a Friday deadline to fund the government through the end of next September. But lawmakers could approve a temporary spending plan for a couple weeks or longer into January, pending further budget negotiations between fractious Republican and Democratic lawmakers who often have sharply divergent views over what programs the government should pay for and how much.
Some Democratic lawmakers have said they would not vote for a new spending plan this week that does not include a provision to block the deportation of about 690,000 undocumented young people who were brought into the country illegally years ago by their parents.
But McConnell contended there is no emergency related to keeping the migrants in the U.S. since President Donald Trump gave Congress until March to deal with the issue before they could be returned to their home countries. Many of the young people, commonly called Dreamers for their educational and work-related pursuits, have only known the United States as their home.
“I don’t think the Democrats would be very smart to say ‘we want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address any time between now and March,’” McConnell said. “That’s a very untenable position.”
“I can’t imagine that they want to shut down the government over an issue that’s not an emergency,” he said.
While Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress, they are likely, because of some Republican defections on spending measures, to need some Democratic votes in order to approve new funding, either for a short-term measure or one that extends through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.