White House changes phone message to blame democrats for 'holding funding hostage'

23 January, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney right listens as Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short speaks with reporters in the White House briefing room about a possible government shutdown Friday Jan. 19 2018 in Washington

The Senate passed the bill to extend the government funding through February 8 with a vote of 81-18, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer reached a deal over government spending and immigration.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had urged Democrats to end their blocking tactics, saying: "Every day we spend arguing about keeping the lights on is another day we can not spend negotiating DACA or defence spending or any of our other shared priorities".

McConnell's comments followed hours of behind-the-scenes talks between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the display of legislative dysfunction, which began Friday at midnight after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure.

A bipartisan group of moderate senators on Sunday worked on a plan to end the federal government shutdown, which started on Saturday, but no deal has been reached before a crucial vote on Monday.

Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he and his colleagues oppose changing the chamber's rules so that a simple majority could advance legislation to fund the government and to end the current shutdown, according to a spokesman.

Republicans tried to ramp up pressure on the Democrats, noting that the House-passed short-term bill also extended funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and would delay three unpopular ObamaCare taxes. It was previously a dealbreaker for many Democrats, but they have warmed to the proposal as the prospects of an immigration deal became dimmer. We were poised to send him this compromised solution and erase the threat of a shutdown but unfortunately my friend, the Democratic leader, had other ideas.

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He urged Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate to work out an agreement.

"Unfortunately, we can not answer your call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding - including funding for our troops, and other national security priorities hostage to an unrelated immigration debate", the voice message says.

The 30-second ad was released Saturday on the anniversary of Trump's inauguration and amid a government shutdown. McConnell would only take up such legislation if Democrats agree to continue to provide votes for government funding prior to any immigration votes.

"If he does not, of course, and I expect he will, he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators but members of his own party as well", Schumer said.

Over the weekend, the blame game heated up and both sides appeared to dig in.

President Trump said he was pleased the Democrats had "come to their senses", but said he would only make a long-term deal on immigration "if and only if it's good for our country".

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Democrats have pushed for DACA being tied to the spending bill, but Republicans say they want to address DACA separately.

"After several discussions, offers and counteroffers, the Republicans and I have come to an arrangement".

The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which shielded certain immigrants brought to the USA illegally as children and allowed them to work, will start to phase out on March 5.

And the Trump administration said it planned to keep national parks open - their closure in the 2013 shutdown provoked an angry public reaction.

McConnell is expected to hold a vote on the continuing resolution at 1:00 a.m. on Monday, although NBC News noted that it is unclear whether the measure has the 60 votes it needs to pass.

"This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow", McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Sunday from the Senate floor.

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Support for the bill was uncertain after Republicans and Democrats spent the weekend trying to strike a deal, only to go home for the night short of an agreement.

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