US government to reopen after Republicans pledge to act on ‘Dreamers’
A stopgap spending measure needed 60 votes and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got.
The US Congress is speeding towards reopening the government as Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill.
Democrats’ objections were dropped in return for assurances from Republican leaders that they will soon address immigration and other contentious issues.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s commitment to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant “Dreamers” was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks.
As I’ve said repeatedly over the past week, shutting down the government is an irresponsible way to do business. All of our important business for the American people had to be put on hold while this manufactured crisis was dealt with.— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) January 22, 2018
The measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.
Before the government can reopen the Senate must vote on final passage, the House must approve in turn, and President Donald Trump must sign the measure.
Democrats climbed on board after two days of negotiations that ended with new reassurances from Mr McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer lent his backing to the agreement during a speech on the chamber’s floor.
The GOP Majority now has 17 days to prevent #Dreamers from being deported. In every possible way, urge your Senators to vote yes on our bipartisan compromise to #ProtectDreamers when it comes to the floor.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 22, 2018
“Now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate,” he said of legislation to halt any deportation efforts aimed at “Dreamers”, who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally.
The White House downplayed Mr McConnell’s commitment, and said Democrats caved under pressure. “They blinked,” principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2018
Earlier on Monday, Mr McConnell raised hopes for a quick end to the shutdown, saying “I hope and intend” to reach agreement soon on immigration and other contentious issues — if the Democrats agreed to the stopgap spending measure.
A block of liberal Democrats — some of them 2020 presidential hopefuls — stuck to their opposition. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey voted no, as did Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Ms Feinstein said she was not persuaded by Mr McConnell’s assurances and did not know how a proposal to protect the more than 700,000 younger immigrants would fare in the House.
I want to see the government re-open as much as anyone, but this bill fails to fix the moral issue we must solve. That's why I voted against it.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 22, 2018
House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News on Monday that if the Senate approved a temporary spending bill to reopen the government until February 8, the House would approve it, too.
The Senate vote came as most government offices cut back drastically or even closed on Monday, as the major effects of the shutdown were first being felt with the beginning of the working week.
Mr McConnell said he hoped to reach bipartisan solutions on immigration, border security, disaster aid, military funding and more by February 8. If not, he said “it would be my intention to take up legislation” addressing those issues.