Government Shuts Down as Lawmakers Still Searching for a Deal
Albanian Daily News
Published January 20, 2018
The federal government shut down at midnight Friday as senators continued to scramble to reach a deal to fund the government.
This is the first modern government shutdown with Congress and the White House controlled by the same party, and it comes on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Trump's White House however immediately blamed Democrats for the shutdown.
"Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement moments before midnight. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators."
Trump and his representatives had been labeling the event the "Schumer shutdown" after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but the New York Democrat was quick to call it "the Trump shutdown."
"It's almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "And now we will have one. And the blame should crash entirely on President Trump's shoulders. This will be called the Trump shutdown. This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in than President Trump."
Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill to keep the government open for four weeks. Republicans only control 51 seats, so GOP leaders needed Democratic votes to cross that threshold. It failed 50-49.
One of the key issues Friday has been just how long to extend funding. The House passed a measure Thursday night to continue funding the government through February 16, and that measure is the one that failed in the Senate early Saturday morning. Democrats have pushed for a shorter-term continuing resolution of a couple days. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who said he would not vote for the House proposal, pushed a plan to keep the government open until February 8.
After the vote, McConnell said he will offer a new continuing resolution to fund the government through February 8. McConnell said he wanted to introduce it during this early morning session, but he wasn't able to for procedural reasons and it wasn't clear if that measure would have enough Democrats it to advance.
"I'll be offering an amendment to change the date to February the eighth," McConnell said around 12:30 a.m. ET. "Unfortunately we'll not be able to get that vote tonight ... And that's the date the senator from South Carolina, the senior senator from South Carolina that I've been talking about, Democratic leader and I have been talking about, which begins to move a little bit close to our friends on the other side said they wanted to be. but a reasonable period of time."
Two GOP sources say that Graham's three-week compromise idea wasn't by accident -- it is the off-ramp on the table, if Democrats are willing to take it.
"It's a live option," one of the sources said -- one Democrats have been told is an acceptable change for Republicans. The big question, the sources said, is whether it goes nearly far enough for Democrats who've listed a litany if reasons for their opposition.
Two sources say Democrats have pitched a new continuing resolution that would expire on January 29, the day before Trump's State of the Union address. Republicans are not willing to consider that, one source said.
Trump showed his support for the House plan of a four week extension just hours before that vote was scheduled.
"Excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with @SenSchumer - working on solutions for Security and our great Military together with @SenateMajLdr McConnell and @SpeakerRyan. Making progress - four week extension would be best!" Trump tweeted Friday evening.