Schumer: White House Hasn’t Called Me To Negotiate Gov’t Shutdown

on January 17, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

If congressional leaders and the White House were moving any closer to reopening the government, there weren’t many signs of it on Capitol Hill Saturday evening.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN that he had not talked to President Trump Saturday, after they meet in the Oval Office a day earlier.

“They have not called me. They say they’re not negotiating. That’s foolish,” Schumer said. “I have asked them to bring the big four, myself, Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi to the White House today, but we haven’t heard from them.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), meanwhile, gave a floor speech in which he said Democrats’ refusal to give them the votes they needed to pass a funding bill — which needs 60 votes to overcome a filibuster — was delaying talks on the disagreements that prompted the shutdown, rather than advancing them.

“This is not a crisis – it’s a manufactured crisis,” he said.

He announced that the Senate will vote Monday at 1 a.m. on a three-week funding bill (assuming that Republicans didn’t come to an agreement with Democrats that would allow them speed up the vote, procedurally).

“We will be right back at this tomorrow, and for as long as it takes,” McConnell said.

Over on the House side, Republicans echoed the White House’s public stance: that they would not negotiate on the issues Democrats are asking for until the government was reopened.

“We’re not going to any negotiating until the government is reopened,” Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told reporters. “That is locked in.”

Instead, House members spent more than an hour sparring over whether a Republican lawmaker broke House rules by bringing to the floor a sign with Schumer’s photo on it.

A funding bill that passed in the House earlier this week that would have funded the government for a month was nine votes short of overcoming a mostly Democratic filibuster in the Senate just after midnight Saturday. Five Democrats voted in favor of the funding bill, and four Republicans opposed it.

Two of those Republicans — Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsay Graham — were seen scuttling back and forth between McConnell’s and Schumer’s office Saturday afternoon, but were tight-lipped on how the talks were going.

The primary driver of the current impasse is the so-called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which shields young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation. Trump rescinded the program last fall.

Democrats are asking for commitment that a bill to continue the program will be brought to a vote in both chambers, as well as agreements on defense spending and non-defense spending numbers.

Among the rank-and-file, there were some attempts at negotiation. A bipartisan group of about a dozen and a half senators met in Sen. Susan Collins’ office Saturday afternoon to discuss ways out of a shutdown.

“There’s multiple sensible ways, it’s trying to get enough people on board with any one sensible way,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) told TPM after the meeting.

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