US shutdown: Lawmakers to launch bid to end impasse
The government partially shut down after Congress blew through a deadline to pass a short-term spending bill to keep it funded.Updated: Jan 21, 2018 22:25 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
The US Senate could meet at 1 am on Monday or sooner to find a compromise and hammer out an agreement to end the federal government shutdown that entered its second day on Sunday.
The government partially shut down after Congress blew through a deadline to pass a short-term spending bill to keep it funded. Democrats wanted any funding bill to be linked to protections to Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, who are in danger of deportation.
A day later, US President Donald Trump and the Republican Party blamed the Democrats for the impasse.
“Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, referring to a rarely used parliamentary procedure to overcome the 60% support needed to clear spending bills, and to continuing resolutions, which are temporary allocation of funds.
This is not the first time that Trump has suggested the “nuclear option”, though the Senate Republican leadership has so far been unwilling to use it.
“(Charles Schumer) wants to keep the government shut down until we finish a negotiation on the subject of illegal immigration,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said of the House’s top Democrat. “If they continue to object, we cannot proceed to a cloture vote until 1 am Monday. But I assure you, we will have the vote at 1 am Monday, unless there is a desire to have it sooner.”
Meanwhile, crowds estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands took to the streets of major cities to march against Trump and his policies. Protestors hoisted placards with messages including “Fight like a girl” and “A woman’s place is in the White House” and “Elect a clown, expect a circus”.
Trump and the Republicans argue that by blocking the spending bill, Democrats are siding with illegal immigrants and causing hardship to federal employees, including military personnel, and are denying insurance to children and the poor under a government programme.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have accused Trump of reneging on a deal made with him on Friday, at which their party conceded funding for his vaunted wall along the Mexican border for protection to Dreamers.
Moderates from both parties are reported to be working on a compromise deal that will keep the government funded for three weeks and implicitly guarantee a votes on a series of immigration measures lined up.
Key to the negotiations is Trump, whose shifting positions on immigration issues has confounded both his own party and Democrats. He is understood to have gone back on his deal with Schumer under pressure from immigration hardliners in the White House.
But he is staying in Washington, cancelling celebrations of the first anniversary of his administration which he had planned in Mar-a-Lago. Instead, the White House released pictures of him at work on Saturday. He also tweeted: “This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown.”
First Published: Jan 21, 2018 22:25 IST