Home / U.S. / Congress returns to work on Saturday as lawmakers press to maintain short-term closure

Congress returns to work on Saturday as lawmakers press to maintain short-term closure



Congress prepared to return to work on Saturday as negotiators pressed for a budget agreement to maintain a federal government that began at midnight.

Agencies closed for the first time in more than four years Friday night after senators rejected a spending patch and bipartisan efforts to find an alternative fell short as the midnight deadline passed.

The Republican and Democratic leaders said they would continue talking, which raised the possibility of a solution over the weekend. The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said on Friday that the conflict has a "really good chance" to be resolved before the government offices open on Monday, suggesting that the impacts of the closure could be limited.

The House was expected to meet again at 9 a.m. and the Senate at noon. Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats planned separate meetings at 10 am on Saturday to start private talks.

But the White House adopted a hard line immediately after midnight, saying they would not negotiate on a central issue – immigration – until the government funding is reinstated

Everything you need to know about the closure of the government [19659007] A closure complicates the lives of federal workers and the millions of Americans who depend on them.

"We will not negotiate the status of illegal immigrants while Democrats hold our legitimate citizens hostage for their reckless demands," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "This is the behavior of the obstructionist losers, not the legislators, when the Democrats begin to pay our armed forces and first responders, we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform."

Both sides faced great political risks in the absence of 10 months for the midterm elections. The Republicans resolved not to submit to the minority party's demands to negotiate, while the Democrats largely unified to use the deadline to force concessions on numerous issues, including protections for hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth.

The confrontation culminated in a delay the night Senate vote failed to overcome an obstacle of 60 votes, sending the leaders of Congress and President Trump to the starting line after days of political positions on all sides.

"The government's shutdown was 100 percent avoidable, completely avoidable, now it's imminent," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said in the Senate floor after the vote. "Maybe, across the aisle, some of our fellow Democrats are proud of themselves, but what has their obstruction achieved? … The answer is simple: their own closure of the government."

The first contours of the blame game seemed to cut against Trump and the Republicans, who control all government levers, but can not pass important legislation without the support, at least partial, of the Senate Democrats. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Americans said by a margin of 20 points that they would blame Trump and the Republican Party instead of the Democrats.

There has never been a government shutdown that results in the licensing of employees under the unified control of Congress and the White House. Some layoffs of White House employees began immediately on Saturday night.

Financing for the government expired early Saturday, as a short-term spending bill stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers have been busy pointing fingers to whom to blame for the impasse. (Jenny Starrs / The Washington Post)

Trump went to Twitter on Saturday morning to blame the Democrats, saying "they are much more concerned with illegal immigrants than with our excellent military or security in our dangerous southern border. " They could have made an easy deal but decided to play the policy of Shutdown. "He also noted in a follow-up tweet that Saturday is the first anniversary of his inauguration and that" the Democrats wanted to give me a good gift. "[19659007] A possible road out of the dead end appeared late at night: Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Leaving the Senate, said he had obtained a McConnell agreement to introduce a bipartisan bill that addressed "dreamers" – immigrants young people brought to the United States illegally as children – for voting.

Flake said he expected a short-term spending agreement to be agreed upon during Saturday's Senate session, extending government funds until February 8. For that same date, he said, McConnell would move to show the dreamer's bill designed by Messrs. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) And Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C).

Flake had He has previously obtained a similar commitment from McConnell, but the majority leader insisted in the last few days that one and the dreamy bill would have to be one compatible with Trump. Flake said he had urged, and McConnell had agreed not to wait for the president.

"At this point, we agree that we can not wait any longer for the White House," Flake said.

A spokeswoman for McConnell The midnight drama came after an unusually quiet day inside the Capitol, where visible tensions were simmering as several parties engaged in silent talks to discuss ways to avoid closure. .

Republicans began the day eager to show a united front: House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) And McConnell met Friday morning, determined to hold firm to a strategy they had worked out almost a week earlier: making Democrats an offer they could not refuse by attaching a long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as the delay of some unpopular health care taxes. And if they refused, the leaders believed, the public reaction would be intense, particularly in states where vulnerable Democratic senators are seeking re-election in November.

McConnell delivered a life preserver in the Senate, declaring that the Democrats had been inducted a "box cannon" by Senate minority leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.).

But at noon, McConnell's strategy threatened to be overturned by Trump, who telephoned Schumer and invited him to the White House for a private meeting without other congressional leaders.

That immediately aroused Republican suspicions on Capitol Hill that Trump might be tempted to reach an agreement with his New York colleague – as he did in the early stages of a September clash – that would undermine the negotiating strategy Republican and would produce a deal that Congress conservatives could not stand.

The White House advisers assured the main leaders of the Congress that no agreement of the meeting would emerge, which was only intended to measure the position of Schumer and the Democrats. The Republicans exhaled when it turned out to be like that.

Trump and Schumer spoke during a lunch with a cheeseburger, according to a person familiar with their conversations, which covers a wide range of contentious issues. Later in the Senate, Schumer described a meeting in which he forged outlines of a possible agreement with Trump, only to see how it crumbled when he left the room.

"I reluctantly put the frontier wall on the table for discussion, even that was not enough to tempt the president to end the deal," he said, adding: "What has happened since that meeting in the Oval Office is indicative of the whole tumultuous and chaotic process in which Republicans have participated in the negotiations so far, although President Trump seemed to like an outline of an agreement in the room, he did not press his party in Congress to accept it. "

What followed during the rest of the afternoon was a silent confrontation, as it became increasingly clear that Republicans could not attract enough Democrats to approve your preferred funding patch.

For a few Democratic senators, a vote to provoke a shutdown was too hard to swallow, even for Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who faced his first major political dilemma since winning the December special election in a campaign who emphasized his support for CHIP.

"I have made a strong commitment in declaring 150,000 children who need health insurance," he said, announcing his decision to reporters Friday night.

He joined the Democratic Lords Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), All of whom face a tough challenge. re-election in states that supported Trump in 2016 and voted to keep the government open.

But Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, meanwhile, announced that they would both vote against the measure, reinforcing the margin opposed to the law. Four Republicans also opposed: Sens. Flake, Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky) and Lindsey O. Graham (SC).

Republicans spent much of the day attacking Democrats on several fronts, often pointing to a litany of critical statements Democratic leaders, including Schumer, had harshly criticized Republicans before the close of 2013.

In a 2013 interview with ABC News, Schumer said: "You know we could do the same with immigration … We could say: We're closing the government, we're not going to raise the debt ceiling until it's approved immigration reform. "It would be a governmental chaos."

"I think the more time passes, the more the American people will see the hypocrisy on the Democratic side," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a veteran of several closing dramas.

Democrats, meanwhile, pointed to other parts of the historical record, notably, a Trump May tweet: "Our country needs a good" closure in September to fix the mess n! "

Conservatives enthusiastically promoted the idea that Democrats would take the government to the pinnacle of a closure to benefit undocumented immigrants. Democrats want legal status for dreamers in exchange for an expense agreement. That fight was triggered by Trump's cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is expected to take effect in March, barring legal challenges.

Many Republicans said they felt perfectly comfortable waging the closing fight in those terms, although Democrats have sought to broaden the scope to other issues, such as funding to combat opiate abuse and pension bailouts.

"The Democrats are going to close the government … because we want basic reforms and coercive measures that prevent new flows of illegal and undocumented immigrants," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Who is pushing for hard-line immigration in exchange for a DACA arrangement. . "I think it's a difficult position to win in light of the 2016 elections."

Marc Short, director of Legislative Affairs for Trump, said that the effort of the Democrats to put an immigration solution in the bill was unreasonable, given that the legislative text has not been drafted and the program does not expire until March. .

"There is no DACA bill to vote, and there is no emergency at the moment," Short said.

The position was held mainly in front of reporters. The furious round-trip negotiations that preceded the 16-day close in 2013 disappeared when Republican leaders tried to force a reversal of the Affordable Care Act and met several times with President Obama to seek a settlement.

Shortly after 6 pm, Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn (R-Tex.) Looked at his watch and expressed frustration.

"The government goes off in what, five hours and 40 minutes? And there is no solution? I do not know if Senator Schumer is determined to dismantle it," he said. "Obviously, we do not want to close the government, either, but they seem determined to do it."

Visibly, only Graham came and went between the Republican and Democratic leadership offices, buying a proposal to replace the four-week funding extension approved by the House with a shorter one.

About 10 p. m. the vote approached, Cornyn declared: "There is no deal."

Schumer rejected a proposal that would have extended funding in three weeks, until February 8, instead of four. Schumer proposed a 10-day extension, which would have set another deadline just before Trump delivered his State of the Union address on January 30. Shortly after midnight, McConnell closed the vote and declared a dead end.

The Trump administration plans to keep national parks and monuments open despite a stop as a way to mitigate public anger, and as long as the military does not stop operating, troops will not receive payment unless Congress specifically authorizes it .

In a sign of preparations on Capitol Hill, Congress staff received a formal notice Friday morning that they can be suspended after midnight. Individual legislators will have to determine which assistants must report to work during the impasse.

Trump postponed a scheduled trip to his Florida resort, where he had scheduled an expensive fundraiser to celebrate his first anniversary in office. Ryan faced the cancellation of an official trip to Iraq, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other lawmakers reviewed plans to travel to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.

This latest trip led to Democratic attacks earlier in the "They wanted to spend the next week rubbing elbows with their elite friends instead of honoring their responsibilities to the American people," said US President George W. Bush. The minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said of the Republicans.

Early in the evening, about 150 protesters gathered in front of the Capitol to hear Democrats promise not to endorse any spending agreement that would not grant legal status to DACA recipients.

"This is a movement," said Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). "We're going to have some good days, and we're going to have some bad days." And like every movement that has allowed our country to progress, we are going to have to fight. "


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