WASHINGTON — Asked today if he would support efforts by senators in each party to pass legislation banning any future government shutdowns, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) replied that “there certainly would be no education in the third kick of the mule.”
“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody. And I hope they will be avoided,” McConnell added. “I’d be open to anything that we could agree on on a bipartisan basis that would make them pretty hard to occur again. There are some differences about how to craft that. But I’m certainly open to it.”
He called shutdowns “an example of government dysfunction, which is — should be embarrassing to everyone on a bipartisan basis.”
Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) bill would keep the government open at current funding levels if Congress misses the deadline to pass appropriations, but funding would start declining the longer the impasse: a dip of one percent after 120 days with no deal, then again every 90 days after that.
Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) “Stop Stupidity Act” maintains funding at current levels in the event of no deal, as well — except for the budgets of the White House and the legislative branch.
Asked about what he would support in conference committee to prevent another shutdown next month — such as adding protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries or the debt ceiling to the mix — McConnell said he’s “for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the president feeling he should declare a national emergency.”
“Exactly how to do that, as you all know, has been quite challenging,” he added. “I’m for narrow or broader [scope]. I’m for whatever works that prevents the level of dysfunction we’ve seen on full display here the last month and also doesn’t bring about a view on the president’s part that he needs to declare a national emergency.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters outside of a closed policy luncheon that he wasn’t going “to get into the negotiations that are private,” but “I hope we can come to an agreement.”
“I hope the president does not try to use working people as hostages. If this man cares so much about working people why did he cause them so much hardship for nothing? And I hope we can come to an agreement,” Schumer said. “I’m very hopeful. I think that a good number of our Republican colleagues don’t want to shut down the government and you know we’ll have to see if they are willing to break from the president or if the president moves off his hard-and-fast position. But we Democrats want to negotiate in good faith and come to an agreement so that there is — so that the shutdown ends and then we look at other legislation so that we wouldn’t have future shutdowns.”
“…We believe that there ought to be an agreement. We believe in border security. We believe in dealings with the ports of entry. But if anything our unity is stronger today than it was last week when we got all but one vote.”