US government shutdown vote: Senate reaches deal to pass spending bill, says Chuck Schumer

‘In a few hours, the government will reopen. We have a lot to do,’ Mr  Schumer said 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Monday 22 January 2018 18:33 GMT
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Chuck Schumer slams Donald Trump for letting government go into shutdown

Democrats have reached a deal with Republicans to end the government shutdown, concluding a three-day halt in federal funding that was partially seen as a blow to President Donald Trump.

“After several discussions, offers and counteroffers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement.”

The Senate later voted 81-18 to approve a short-term spending bill to fund the government for another three weeks. The measure was then sent to the House of Representatives, where members of Congress voted 266-150 to also end the shutdown. The bill will now head to Mr Trump’s desk for the President’s signature, allowing the government to reopen on Tuesday morning.

Mr Trump said in a statement that he was “pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children”.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Mr Schumer had criticised Mr Trump, saying it was a group of 20 Republican and Democratic senators who hashed out a deal while the President “sat on the sidelines”.

The top Democrat had met with Mr Trump on Friday at the White House to try to negotiate an agreement, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. A sticking point throughout the process was the issue of immigration.

“Since our meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, the President and I have not spoken, and the White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend,” Mr Schumer said in a quiet chamber. “The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines.

“Despite and because of this frustration, I’ve been having conversations with the Republican leader over the weekend about a path forward,” he added.

During a White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hit back at Mr Schumer’s allegations, asserting that ”what the President did clearly worked”. The Senate vote of 81-18 was evidence of this, she added, referring to the Senate’s first procedural vote that had ended debate on the spending bill, allowing it to advance to a final vote on Monday afternoon.

“Those numbers are much more in the President’s favour than in Mr Schumer’s favour,” she said.

Earlier on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to take up an immigration bill that includes protections for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children – the ”dreamers”.

Mr Schumer said this pledge was enough for Democrats to agree to help end the government shutdown.

If senators fail to reach a deal on immigration by February 8 as part of a broader agreement on federal spending, the Senate will then take up a separate immigration measure.

“The process will be neutral and fair to all sides,” Mr Schumer said.

Several Democrats still rejected the deal – some out of the fear that Mr McConnell would renege on his promise.

“The majority leader’s comments fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill,” said Senator Kamala Harris, who many consider to be a possible 2020 presidential candidate. “I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word.”

Last week, the House approved a bill to fund the government for four weeks – a measure that the Senate rejected, sending the US government into a shutdown at midnight on Friday.

The White House said it expects the federal government to be operating at full strength by Tuesday morning.

The House and Senate votes came after a weekend of finger-pointing between Republicans and Democrats over which party was responsible for the shutdown.

The White House was at the forefront of the blame game, with Mr Trump tweeting that Democrats “could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead”.

The jabs continued on Monday, even after it was announced that the Democrats had struck an agreement with Republicans to end the shutdown. Ms Huckabee Sanders took several moments during the White House briefing to bash Democrats for the closure.

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