Debate Resumes Amid US Government Shutdown

Democrats and Republicans showed few signs of agreement Saturday, just hours after a funding bill was blocked in the Senate, beginning a partial shutdown of the U.S. government. Spending authority expired at midnight Washington time, triggering a halt of nonessential functions.

Lawmakers are at odds over a range of military spending and immigration issues, including a legislative fix for nearly 800,000 undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children.

Senators resumed debate Saturday afternoon on a temporary spending bill that would fund the government through February 8. Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, however, objected to the approval of a continuing series of temporary spending bills, saying such a practice “simply kicks the can down the road and fails to get the job done for the American people.”

‘Looks like a mess’

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted Saturday afternoon, “I know it looks like a mess — but there are many senators of good will who want to solve the problem.” He thanked Democratic senators for their “commitment to hard work and finding solutions last night.”

The House of Representatives stayed in session Saturday in the event the Senate negotiated a new continuing resolution that would require another vote. But neither side appeared to be in agreement on the terms for negotiating a resolution.

“The president will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Saturday afternoon. 

The White House and congressional Republicans blamed Democrats for what it called the “Schumer Shutdown” — named for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York — accusing them of valuing illegal immigrants ahead of lawful Americans.

“Mr. Schumer is going to have to up his game a little bit and be a little bit more honest with the president of the United States if we’re going to see progress on that front,” federal budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a White House briefing Saturday afternoon.

Different accounts

Schumer met with Trump Friday afternoon to try to avoid a shutdown. The two sides’ accounts differed about whether Schumer offered President Donald Trump Democratic support for funding a border wall in return for a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump has rescinded. The Obama-era program provided protection from deportation to young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children.

Federal agencies, meanwhile, prepared to idle employees and halt major portions of their operations.

Democrats backed three previous short-term spending extensions late last year while bipartisan negotiations went forward on immigration and spending priorities. Last week, Trump rejected a bipartisan Senate immigration proposal, throwing congressional negotiations into disarray.

The U.S. government has shut down before, including in 2013, in a partisan deadlock over health care policy and funding. The shutdown lasted 16 days and furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers.


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