Democrats and Republicans at odds as government shutdown looms

Elias Hubbard
January 20, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went to the White House Friday to chat with the president about ways to avoid a government shutdown.

Democrats in the Senate have served notice that they will debate a four-week, government-wide funding bill that cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday evening. The Senate was expected to begin considering the House-passed bill later on Thursday, with a first procedural vote likely.

Republicans would need at least a dozen Democratic votes to get the bill, HR 195, through the Senate after at least three of the 51 Republicans in the chamber said they would vote against it.

The Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan argued: "Senate Democrats are the only ones standing in the way of a fully funded government and a reauthorised health insurance program for children". Schumer told reporters afterward that progress had been made, but there's no deal yet.

Speaking as he returned to Capitol Hill after the 90-minute meeting, the NY senator said: "We had a long and detailed meeting".

The US Senate is racing to avert a government shutdown ahead of a midnight deadline with no agreement on funding in sight and both parties squabbling over who's to blame for the impasse. "The discussions will continue", Schumer said. Durbin is among a small group of Democratic and Republican senators meeting today in an effort to reach a compromise.

The standoff also forced Mr Trump to cancel his planned departure on Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon. In past shutdowns, that meant national parks were shuttered, some government contractors halted work and many agency functions, including release of economic statistics, were suspended. Democrats, however, remain largely opposed to the measure because they want it tied to a larger immigration deal over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security.

The last government shutdown occurred in 2013 after Republican lawmakers refused to support a spending bill that included funds for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Earlier in the day budget director Mick Mulvaney blamed democrats for the stand-off described it as the "Schumer Shutdown".

The cloture vote, which allows a bill to proceed without the ability of a member to filibuster, has so far failed to get the 60 votes were needed for passage. "We shouldn't be beholden to everything the president wants", the senator added. "There's no one to negotiate with", said NY senator Mr Schumer on Friday as he entered his office.

Before that, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had harsh words for his colleagues on the other side of the aisle, blaming Democrats' push for protection for illegal immigrants who came to the country while they were young, or "dreamers", for the stalemate.

A shutdown, he said, "could happen", but "it's up to the Democrats".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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