Sen. Chuck Schumer says he and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell have come to an arrangement to help pass a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open, launching blistering criticism for President Donald Trump’s failure to broker compromise during the most recent contentious talks.
Negotiations lasted late into the night, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill that had been scheduled for noon. The vote was delayed as talks were completed.
“We will vote today to reopen the government,” Minority Leader Schumer said, three days after the shutdown officially began.
Under the proposal taking shape, Democrats would agree to a three-week spending measure — until Feb. 8 — in return for a commitment from the Republican leadership in the Senate to address immigration policy on a bill to protect young immigrants from deportation.
The coming to terms was hinted at in the morning by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who characterized the talks as “progress by inches.”
Trump, who regularly disrupted negotiations in recent weeks, had been a relatively subdued player in the weekend debate. He has not appeared in public since Friday afternoon. The White House said he was in regular contact with Republican leaders, but he has not reached out to any Democrats, a White House official told The Associated Press.
Schumer confirmed that from the Senate floor, saying that since his in-person meeting with Trump on Friday, the pair hadn’t spoke.
“The great dealmaking president sat on the sidelines,” he said.
“It’s a shame Mr. President, that the American people and the Senate have had to do endure such handwringing, fingerpointing [and] stridency to secure a guarantee that we will finally move to address this urgent issue,” he added, referring to immigration.
Trump on Twitter on Monday accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for non-citizens over U.S. citizens.
“Not good,” his first tweet said.
In a second tweet, he said, “Democrats have shut down our government in the interests of their far left base. They don’t want to do it but are powerless!”
Trump’s first tweet appeared to undercut comments by his legislative affairs director, Marc Short, who told CNN that the immigrants in question are law-abiding and “productive to our society.”
Short said the administration wants to “find a pathway for them” to stay in the U.S.
The White House and Republican leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened.
Shortly after Schumer spoke, McConnell expressed gratitude a way forward had been found but offered criticism for the Democrats.
“I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand, and would not have understood in the future,” he said.
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 at midnight Friday after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure. Democrats have sought to use the spending bill to win concessions, including protections for roughly 700,000 so-called Dreamers brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Host of issues to resolve
McConnell said he hopes to reach bipartisan solutions on immigration, border security, disaster aid, military funding and more by Feb. 8. If not, he said, “it would be my intention to take up legislation” addressing those issues.
Although they initially dug in on a demand for an immigration deal, Democrats had shifted to blaming the shutdown on the incompetence of Republicans and Trump, seeming sensitive to being seen by voters as willing to tie up government operations to protect immigrants.
Democrats are facing intense pressure from their base to solve the issue over the young immigrants and are skeptical of Republicans’ credibility when offering to take up the issue. Whether Trump would back the emerging plan or any later proposal on immigration is an open question.
While lawmakers feuded, signs of the shutdown were evident at national parks and in some federal agencies. Social Security and most other safety-net programs were unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions continued, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay.
Lawmakers were mindful that the political stakes would soar Monday morning, when thousands of federal workers would be told to stay home or, in many cases, work without pay. What was still a weekend burst of Washington dysfunction could spiral into a broader crisis with political consequences in November during the midterm elections.
Five Democrats from states won by Trump broke ranks in a vote Friday that failed. The measure gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said if the Senate approves a temporary spending bill to reopen the government through Feb. 8, the House would approve it, too.
Senate Democrats had blocked a stopgap measure passed by the House to keep the federal bureaucracy operating through Feb. 16. But speaking on Fox and Friends on Monday, Ryan said the new date works for the House.
The Wisconsin Republican also said negotiations on an immigration deal are taking place in good faith.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut appeared on MSNBC on Monday and said he had “zero confidence” that Ryan will bring legislation to shield the Dreamers.