Spending bill vote delayed as government shutdown continues

By Allen Cone
President Donald Trump appears in the Oval Office with staff members on Saturday during the government shutdown. Photo courtesy of Sarah Sanders/White House/Twitter
1 of 4 | President Donald Trump appears in the Oval Office with staff members on Saturday during the government shutdown. Photo courtesy of Sarah Sanders/White House/Twitter

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 Saturday.

On Saturday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell scheduled a vote for 1 a.m. Monday to fund the government through Feb. 8 unless Democrats agree to move up the vote. The Republican leader adjourned the Senate for the night but it will reconvene Sunday "as long as it takes."


One day earlier, U.S. Senate didn't get the necessary 60 votes to approve a temporary spending bill through Feb. 16 that, like the vote Monday, 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 five members from from both parties voted with the other side. That included McConnell who voted no so he could reconsider the motion.


The House, which also met Saturday, passed its measure Thursday by a 230-197 vote. On a majority vote is needed in the House.

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. The party still went on.

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 16 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. Others parks will remain open but trash won't be picked up or bathrooms serviced, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Saturday.

Those furloughed get paid later.

On Friday, 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 bill defeated includes funding for six years for Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose funding expired Friday.

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, a date backed by McConnell. 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.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told CNN on Saturday "we're getting close. We should have just kept the government open."

But he said Republicans, including Trump, don't want to deal with DACA.

"Look, it's their mess. The president created it."

On Sept. 6, the Trump administration announced former President Barack Obama's executive order protecting the Dreamers in 2012 was being rescinded. He gave Congress six months -- until March -- to "legalize DACA."

The White House said after the shutdown the administration 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 Friday night. "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."

On Saturday, McConnell said "the solution to this manufactured crisis was inches away."


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 on the floor.

On Saturday, Schumer said "what's even more frustrating than President Trump's intransigence is the way he seems amenable to these compromises before switching positions and backing off. Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O."

Mulvaney said Schumer only agreed to one year of funding for the wall instead of the total $33 billion, including $18 billion for the actual wall and $15 billion for technology, personnel and roads.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short compared the Democrats' actions to a "2 year-old temper tantrum."

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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