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McConnell: Senate Priorities are Hurricane Aid, Hiking Debt Ceiling, Averting Shutdown

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listen as President Trump speaks during a meeting with congressional leaders and administration officials on tax reform at the White House on Sept. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this morning named three top priorities for the upper chamber “to address in the coming days,” not including the DREAM Act that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged his colleague to bring to the floor to protect illegal immigrants brought to the country as children.

“There are three critically important things before us that need be done very quickly: pass disaster relief legislation to allow us to rebuild from Harvey and prepare for future disasters like Irma, prevent a default so that those emergency resources can actually get to Americans who need them, and keep the government funded,” McConnell said, referencing the Sept. 30 government shutdown deadline.

“These are the president’s immediate priorities, these are my immediate priorities, and they are critically important to establishing certainty and stability as our country continues to recover from one record-setting storm and prepare for yet another,” he added.

McConnell emphasized “the need for certainty now is incredibly important,” adding, “I have been having conversations with the Democratic leader on my view of the way forward on the three issues I mentioned.”

President Trump hosted a meeting at the White House this morning with congressional leaders from both parties.

“As we work on these immediate priorities, members will also continue working on other critically important items like tax reform, national security, and filling vacancies across the federal government,” McConnell said. “We’ve clearly got a lot to do in the coming weeks and months. But we’ll all keep working to tackle these issues as soon as possible.”

Schumer, meanwhile, called on McConnell to fix Trump’s “terribly wrong decision” on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by bringing the DREAM Act, unattached to any other legislation, to the floor.

“Congress has the ability, and I believe the responsibility to act — to protect these DREAMers before the programs completely terminates in 6 months. Why not do it right now? President Trump has called on Congress to act. So why don’t we?” Schumer said. “I’d ask my friend the Majority Leader and Speaker Ryan to put a clean DREAM Act on the floor of both chambers in September. Every Democrat is ready to vote for that legislation. We know many Republicans in both chambers would vote for it as well. It would likely pass without much fuss.”

“But Mr. President, if we can’t get that to happen, we will add it to legislative vehicles that are moving, until we get it done. It is that important to us, and to America.”

Schumer acknowledged “we have a lot we need to get done this month: an extension of government funding, raising the debt ceiling, passing aid for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and protecting the DREAMers.”

“So far, we Democrats haven’t heard much in the way of plan to accomplish all of these goals from the Republican leadership, who hold the majority in both houses of Congress as well as the presidency,” he added. “I hope that this changes this morning, and I look forward to hearing the president’s plan and the Republican majority’s plan for accomplishing all the things that Congress must accomplish in September.”