Party leaders trade blame for shutdown ahead of late-night vote to restore funding


Party leaders traded blame for the second day of a government shutdown and hours before a 1 a.m. Monday vote on a bill to reopen it with funding that would last until Feb. 8.

“This shutdown was a political miscalculation of gigantic proportions,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “But it doesn’t need to go on any longer. It could stop today. So let’s step back from the brink.”

Democrats are blocking immediate consideration of the Feb. 8 funding legislation. Instead, the Senate must wait until 1 a.m. to consider the measure and it will require 60 votes — including at least nine Democrats — to advance.

Democrats, however, dug into their opposition on Sunday, blaming President Trump for not accepting their terms for a deal that would include protecting Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Republicans don’t want immigration language in the spending deal and are refusing to negotiate with Democrats on the matter until the government reopens.

But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he offered Trump favorable terms on an immigration deal that included funding for a southern border wall, which was a chief campaign promise made by the president.

Schumer was vague on the terms of the deal.

“I made what i thought was a very generous offer to the president,” Schumer said. “The most generous offer yet.”

Schumer said “the president picked a number for a wall, I accepted it.”

But a simple exchange of protection for Dreamers in exchange for wall money won’t pass the House and will garner significant opposition in the Senate, where Republicans are seeking modifications to chain migration as well as the visa lottery system.

Democrats are not in favor of those changes.

McConnell, meanwhile, said he is not going to restart immigration talks until Democrats relent on the spending legislation.

He called on Democrats to allow a vote on the Feb. 8 bill.

“If nothing changes, a cloture vote will be no sooner than 1 a.m.,” McConnell said. “We could resolve this much earlier, if the Democratic leader withdraws his procedural objection and allows the Senate to proceed to a vote.”

Schumer used his opening remarks to taunt the president, blaming the shutdown on his “inability to clinch a deal,” presented by Democrats.

Republicans said Democrats have backed themselves into a corner that could be politically damaging.

“I hope there are enough Democrats who will say to their leaders, you made a mistake, you miscalculated,” Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. “Let’s correct the mistake. Let’s move on. Let’s do the right thing for our constituents.”

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