WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the government shutdown a “manufactured crisis” created by Democrats who want a permanent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) fix, which he referred to as a “non-emergency” issue that does not belong in the short-term spending bill to continue federal government operations.
“The one non-emergency issue our friends on the other side of the aisle are trying to shoehorn into this discussion doesn’t reach that status of emergency until March. This is pure folly. The American people know so, that’s why in a recent survey a majority said keeping the government open is a higher priority than shutting down the government over the issue of illegal immigration,” McConnell said during a Senate floor speech today.
“That’s why headlines all across America are laying the blame for this government shutdown right at the feet of Senate Democrats and their filibuster,” he added. “Now, the Democratic leader could end this today. We can get past this manufactured crisis and get on to a host of serious issues before us that require thoughtful bipartisan negotiations. This shutdown could get a lot worse tomorrow, a lot worse. Today would be a good day to end it.”
Due to a recent federal court ruling, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun accepting status renewal requests from DACA beneficiaries.
McConnnell said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) opposed the House-passed short-term continuing resolution, which included a six-year authorization of CHIP, because President Trump didn’t agree to “everything” he wanted in their Friday meeting.
“The House already passed [the CR]. The president was ready to sign it. We were poised to send him this compromised solution and erase the threat of a shutdown but unfortunately my friend, the Democratic leader, had other ideas. Now, we all know in the Senate the minority has the power to filibuster; I support that right from an institutional point of view, but the question is when do you use it? On Friday, the Democratic leader made the extraordinary and destructive choice to filibuster our bipartisan bill and guarantee the American people a shutdown of their federal government,” McConnell said.
“Now, it’s the second day of the Senate Democrat filibuster, and the Senate Democrats’ shutdown of the federal government because the president wouldn’t resolve months of ongoing negotiations over massive issues in one brief meeting and give the Democratic leader everything he wants, my friend across the aisle has shut down the government for hundreds of millions of Americans because he didn’t get everything he wanted in one meeting Friday with the president,” he added.
Schumer blamed Trump for the shutdown, adding that Republicans “failed” to negotiate with Democrats on adding a DACA solution to the CR.
“Our democracy was designed to run on compromise. The Senate was designed to run on compromise. We are no dictatorship, subject to the whims of an executive. Just as we’re not a one-party system where the winner of an election gets to decide everything and the minority nothing. We are a government that can only operate if the majority party, the governing party, accepts and seeks compromise. The majority, however, has forgotten the lessons of the Founding Fathers. They have shown that they do not know how to compromise,” Schumer said.
“Not only do they not consult us, they can’t even get on the same page with their president, the president from their own party. The congressional leaders tell me to negotiate with President Trump. President Trump tells me to figure it out with the congressional leaders. This political Catch-22, never seen before, has driven our government to dysfunction. Americans know why the dysfunction is occurring – a dysfunctional president,” he added.
During his Friday meeting at the White House, Schumer said Trump picked a number for the wall and he accepted it for the “sake of compromise,” calling it a “generous offer.”
“The president picked a number for the wall. I accepted it. It wasn’t my number. It wasn’t the number in the bills here. He picked it. Now it would be hard to imagine a more reasonable compromise. All along, the president is saying, well, I will do DACA and DREAMers in return for the wall. He’s got it. He can’t take yes for an answer – that’s why we’re here. And we don’t have anyone in the White House or here in the Senate, in the House, Republicans, or the president’s own party to tell him he’s got to straighten this whole thing out,” Schumer said.
“The bottom line is this – it would be hard to imagine a much more reasonable compromise. I was in principle agreeing to help the president to get his signature campaign promise, something Democrats and Republicans on the Hill staunchly oppose, in exchange for DACA, a group of people the president said he has great love for,” the Dem leader added.
Schumer continued, “I essentially agreed to give the president something he has said he wants in exchange for something we both want, but only hours after he seemed to be very open, very eager about that generous, tentative agreement – and it was only tentative, no handshakes – he backed away from the last best chance to avoid a shutdown.”
Schumer said Democrats are ready to end the shutdown if Trump accepts the deal that was negotiated on Friday.
“He has said he has a love for DREAMers. Let him show it. He said he needs a wall and border security – accept our offer to do both of those things because we Democrats, while we think the wall will not accomplish very much and cost a lot of money, we strongly believe in border security and have fully supported the president’s offer or budget proposal on border security for this year,” he said. “So, this is the Trump shutdown, only President Trump can end it.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) disagreed with Schumer, arguing that Trump is not the one to blame for the shutdown.
“President Trump didn’t vote to shut down the government. He’s not a member of the United States Senate. President Trump did not shut down the government and now Senate Democrats are reeling because the president has said while the government is shut down, he’s not going to negotiate a change of our immigration laws that our Democratic colleagues and, frankly, many Republicans like me would like to see changed relative to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA young adults,” Cornyn said during a floor speech today.
“So it seems to me that our Democratic colleagues have literally, well, figuratively, let’s say, shot themselves in the foot, reloaded, and shot themselves in the other foot, and now they expect President Trump to somehow rescue them out of this box canyon,” Cornyn added. “I know I’m mixing my metaphors here, but this is the situation they find themselves in. They shut down the government, and now they’re hurting the very people that they shut down the government to help because there are no negotiations going on for a solution that we would all like to try to achieve. So this is really surreal.”
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, criticized a video Trump’s campaign released on Saturday alleging that the Democrats are “complicit” in every crime committed by undocumented immigrants as a result of the shutdown.
Trump has requested funding for the completion of a “border wall” or “barrier” at the southern border to combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling. In addition to the wall, Trump wants to stem “chain migration,” or family reunification, in exchange for a compromise on a bill to offer legal status to DACA beneficiaries.
“The first day of the Trump shutdown, the president’s campaign posted a video that was nothing short of racist fearmongering – propaganda meant to scare the American people has no place in our democracy,” Leahy said today. “Instead of playing the politics of fear, the president should be leading and working with us to reach a bipartisan deal on a path forward.”
“That could be done if the president really wanted to lead instead of talking about what’s a good political present for himself. I think he knows this,” he added, referencing a sarcastic tweet from Trump about Senate Democrats giving him a government shutdown as a “present” after his first year in office.
The Senate is expected to take its next vote to reopen the government at 1 a.m. on Monday.