McConnel & Trump Team Up, To ENSURE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN CONTINUES!
Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed package to reopen the federal government for a second time in as many weeks on Tuesday.
Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Ben Cardin (Md.) asked for consent to take up a package of bills that would reopen the federal government.
One bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, while the other would fund the rest of the impacted departments and agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Under Senate rules, any senator can ask for consent to vote on or pass a bill, but any senator can object. McConnell blocked the two bills, saying the Senate wouldn’t “participate in something that doesn’t lead to an outcome.”
“The solution to this is a negotiation between the one person in the country who can sign something into law, the president of the United States, and our Democratic colleagues,” McConnell said Tuesday.
Roughly a quarter of the government has been shut down since Dec. 22 over an entrenched fight on funding for Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The Senate passed a stopgap bill late last year by a voice vote, but it was rejected by the White House because it didn’t include extra border money.
Trump is demanding more than $5 billion for his signature wall. Democratic leadership has pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap and argued that it must go to fencing.
Speaking in New Orleans, Trump said there was “no substitute” for a physical barrier along the southern border with Mexico and accused Democrats of playing politics in refusing to negotiate on the issue.
“They think if they stop me, it’ll be good for 2020,” Trump said of Democrats in Congress. “We need that barrier. … If you don’t have that barrier there, there is not a thing you can do.”
But as the partial shutdown enters its fourth week and hundreds of thousands of federal workers miss their first paychecks, fresh polling suggests the president is losing the battle of public opinion.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found that 63 percent of voters agree with the Democratic proposal to reopen parts of the government that do not involve border security, with 30 percent opposed. The same poll found 63 percent also oppose using the shutdown to force wall funding, with just 32 percent supporting.
The poll found that 56 percent of American voters blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the partial shutdown, compared with 36 percent who say Democrats are responsible.
An earlier Washington Post-ABC News poll also found more Americans blame Trump and the Republicans than the Democrats over the stalemate — though the same survey showed support for a wall growing to 42 percent, up from 34 percent a year ago.
Yet neither side is showing any sign of budging, with Trump continuing to insist on upwards of nearly $6 billion for a border wall and Democratic congressional leaders saying they will not entertain a wall in this funding package.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hit back at Trump on Twitter – telling the president that if he wants to help farmers, he should re-open shuttered agencies.
“President [Trump] is speaking to farmers in Louisiana,” Schumer tweeted. “But [the U.S, Department of Agriculture] can’t pay out promised aid during the #TrumpShutdown. They can’t implement the new provisions in the Farm Bill. Farmers can’t get loans.”
Schumer added: “Mr. President: If you want to help farmers, re-open the government.”
House Democrats passed their package to fully reopen the government earlier this month and have begun passing individual appropriations bills as they try to ratchet up pressure on Republicans to break with the president and support the legislation. But those bills are expected to go nowhere in the GOP-led Senate.
McConnell sought to drive a wedge between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democrats earlier Tuesday, characterizing the newly minted House leader as making border security “take a back seat to the political whims of the far left.”
“Here in the Senate my Democratic colleagues have an important choice to make. They could stand with common sense border experts, with federal workers and with their own past voting records, by the way, or they could continue to remain passive spectators complaining from the sidelines, as the Speaker refuses to negotiate with the White House,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
Talks between Trump and congressional leadership are at a standstill after the president walked out of a White House meeting last week when Pelosi told him that Democrats would not consider border wall funding even if he fully reopened the government.
Democrats are trying to build pressure on McConnell to break with Trump and move legislation, something Senate GOP leadership say the careful Republican leader will not do.
Though several senators are publicly picking their own ideas, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Tuesday that hasn’t resulted in much pressure from within the caucus for McConnell to change his strategy.
“Our members are, you know, they’re going to make their positions known, nobody will be shy about that,” Thune told reporters. “But in the end, having a vote in the Senate I think has to be on something that not only can pass here but that can be signed into law by the president.”
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged McConnell to get involved in the talks on Tuesday, touting his previous role as a deal-maker who could resolve sticky political stalemates.
“There’s only one person who can help America break through this gridlock: Leader McConnell. For the past month Leader McConnell has been content to hide behind the president, essentially giving him a veto over what comes to the floor of the Senate,” Schumer said.
He added that if McConnell brought up the House bills to fully reopen the government he believed they would receive a “significant,” “veto-proof” majority. McConnell has said the House bills cannot pass the Senate.
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