WASHINGTON (AP) — Feuding Democrats and Republicans in Congress try to dodge blame for a paralyzing standoff over immigration and exhibiting few indicators of progress on negotiations wanted to finish a authorities shutdown.
The finger-pointing Saturday performed out in uncommon weekend proceedings in each the House and Senate, the place lawmakers have been keen to point out voters they have been actively working for an answer — or a minimum of actively making their case why the opposite get together was at fault. The scene highlighted the political stakes for each events in an election-year shutdown whose penalties have been removed from clear.
“The American individuals can not start to grasp why the Senate Democratic chief thinks the complete authorities needs to be shut down till he will get his method on unlawful immigration,” mentioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hours after a last-chance Senate vote failed.
Democrats refused to offer the votes wanted to reopen the federal government till they strike a cope with President Donald Trump defending younger immigrants from deportation, offering catastrophe reduction and boosting spending for opioid therapy and different home applications.
Democrats really feel “very, very strongly concerning the points” mentioned Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic chief, including that he believes “the American individuals are on our aspect.”
The combating adopted a late-night vote by which Senate Democrats blocked a House-passed measure that will have stored companies functioning for 4 weeks.
Republicans started the day hopeful they may choose off Democratic help for a three-week model and convey the episode to a fast finish. Democrats are insisting on an alternate lasting solely a number of days — which they assume would strain Republicans to chop an immigration deal — and say they will kill the three-week model when the Senate votes on it by early Monday.
The shutdown got here on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. As lawmakers bickered within the Capitol, protesters marched exterior in a reprise of the ladies’s march from a yr in the past. The president remained out of sight and canceled plans to journey to his resort in Florida for the weekend. He did tweet, making mild of the timing by saying Democrats “needed to offer me a pleasant current” to mark the beginning of his second yr in workplace.
Trump labored the telephones, staying in contact with McConnell, whereas White House legislative affairs director Marc Short and finances chief Mick Mulvaney met on the Capitol with House Republicans. GOP lawmakers voiced help for the White House stance of not negotiating whereas the federal government was shuttered.
Tempers have been brief and theatrics excessive. Lawmakers bickered over blame, hypocrisy and even the posters dropped at the House flooring. While neither chamber voted on a measure to open the federal government, the House did vote on whether or not a poster displayed by Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama violated the House guidelines on decorum. The House voted to permit the poster, which bore a photograph of Schumer and the quote “the politics of idiocy.”
While Republicans blamed the breakdown on Schumer, Democrats more and more targeted their messaging on criticizing Trump, whose recognition is dismal. Democrats have been utilizing his zigzagging stance in immigration talks — first encouraging offers, then rejecting them — to underscore his first, chaotic yr in workplace.
“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” Schumer mentioned.
Short in contrast Democrats’ actions to “a 2-year-old mood tantrum.”
Republicans appeared content material to hope further Democrats will break as strain builds and the impression of the shutdown turns into clearer.
In the late-night vote blocking the invoice stopping a shutdown, 5 Democrats from states Trump gained within the 2016 election voted to maintain authorities functioning. In an indication that moderates are feeling strain, greater than a dozen centrist senators from each events have been attempting to craft an immigration and spending compromise that get together leaders would embrace, however they’ve fallen brief thus far.
Republicans argued that Democrats have been blocking further Pentagon funds by protecting authorities closed and thwarting a long-term finances deal.
“I query if Senate Democrats are actually united,” Short informed reporters. “We assume there will be extra immediately and hopefully they will proceed to see that it is not clever to carry our troops hostage.”
But strain on Republicans may mount with the brand new workweek Monday and the impression of the federal shutdown turns into extra obvious to individuals.
While the Statue of Liberty — the nation’s emblem of its immigrant previous — and Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell have been closed Saturday, guests had entry to different iconic nationwide parks like Yellowstone. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted a photograph of himself speaking to college students on the World War II Memorial in Washington, blocks from White House.
Social Security and most different safety-net applications have been unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical authorities capabilities continued, with uniformed service members, well being inspectors and legislation enforcement officers set to work with out pay. But if no deal is reached earlier than Monday, tons of of hundreds of federal staff will probably be furloughed.
For leverage, Democrats have been banking on Trump’s wobbly presidency and the GOP’s management of the White House, the House and Senate — a triumvirate that till now had by no means allowed a authorities closure to happen.
“Republicans in Congress plunged head-first into the Trump shutdown,” Schumer informed reporters. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., known as Republicans “so incompetent and negligent that they could not get it collectively to maintain the federal government open.”
Which get together’s technique would succeed remained open to debate.
Retired Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a veteran of shutdown wars, mentioned he believed Democrats imagine “the extra chaos they’ll create the higher.” He mentioned Schumer’s powerful technique was “a gross overplaying of his hand” and predicted Democrats would finally relent.
Former Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., mentioned each events wanted to be cautious.
“It’s apparent that Democrats are enjoying to their base and Republicans are enjoying to their base,” he mentioned. “Everybody loses. It simply feeds into the fed-up environment of the American individuals.”
Democrats have been in search of a deal to guard so-called Dreamers. Around 700,000 of them have been shielded in opposition to deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which Trump halted final yr. He’s given lawmakers till early March to cross laws restoring the protections, however he is demanded added cash for his proposed border wall with Mexico as a value.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Richard Lardner and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.