Shutdown Ends with McConnell Promise of DACA Vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signals a thumbs-up after a successful cloture vote to reopen the government Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — It was branded the “Trump Shutdown” or the “Schumer Shutdown,” depending on the source, but it only lasted a little more than a weekend.

Hot on the heels of a deal to get the government up and running again, the Senate voted 81-18, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent, to break the Dems’ filibuster and move toward an afternoon vote on a continuing budget resolution.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on the Senate floor that after a weekend of conversations with his GOP counterpart, “offers and counter-offers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement.”

“We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement, with the commitment that, if an agreement isn’t reached by February the 8th, the Senate will immediately proceed to the consideration of legislation dealing with DACA immediately after the expiration of the bill on Feb. 8,” Schumer said of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which expires in March if no congressional resolution is reached. “That process will be neutral and fair to all sides. We expect that a bipartisan bill on DACA will receive fair consideration and an up-or-down vote on the floor.”

Schumer acknowledged that “this procedure will not satisfy everyone on both sides,” but “it is a way forward.”

“I am confident that there are 60 votes in the Senate for a DACA bill. And now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate. It is a good solution, and I will vote for it,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful to the bipartisan group that has come together in recent days to renew the immigration debate with a sense of urgency. There you are. I believe that this group has the potential to return the Senate to the kind of place it should be on the issue of immigration: a place for bipartisanship, a place for action, a place for achievement. The bipartisan group, in a very fine way, filled the glaring absence of the president in these talk.”

That group consisted of Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), and Mike Rounds (S.D.), and Democrats Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Tim Kaine (Va.),  Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Mark Warner (Va.). Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) rounded out the group.

Schumer said he expected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “to fulfill his commitment to the Senate, to me and the bipartisan group, and abide by this agreement.”

“If he does not, of course — and I expect he will — he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators but the members of his own party as well,” he added.

Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot down the trade-off, but House Dems are not being whipped to vote one way or the other. The House is expected to approve the Senate measure.

“I don’t see that there’s any reason — I’m speaking personally and hearing from my members — to support what was put forth,” Pelosi told reporters about the deal.

Collins told reporters of McConnell’s vow to consider DACA legislation, “I do think it would be helpful if the language were a little bit stronger.”

“We have been talking for months about ways to address Congress’ unfinished business — military spending, disaster relief, healthcare, immigration, and border security,” McConnell said. “Now those talks can get going again.”

At the White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t elaborate on what President Trump would support in a DACA bill. On DACA beneficiaries who face an uncertain future, she said, “I think they should storm Capitol Hill and protest there because that is the place that has held up this discussion.”