Trump ally urges short-term bill to end impasse | News Coverage from USA

Trump ally urges short-term bill to end impasse

WASHINGTON – The Senate rejected a pair of dueling bills Thursday to fund the federal government and end the longest partial government shutdown in history.

Following the votes, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and ally of President Donald Trump, called for a short-term measure to open the government for three weeks to give lawmakers more time to negotiate.

“The way forward is clear to me: a three-week continuing resolution (CR) that includes a down payment on wall/barrier funding and priorities of Democrats for disaster relief, showing good faith from both sides,” Graham said in a statement. “I strongly urge my Democratic colleagues to work with the White House on a three-week CR that includes a down payment on wall/barrier funding consistent with (Department of Homeland Security) priorities.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said a short-term measure would work only if there is “a large down payment” on a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.

In another sign of growing impatience with the standoff, six Republicans voted in favor of a Democratic bill that would have reopened the government until Feb. 8 without funding a border wall.

Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mitt Romney of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia broke rank with GOP leadership and supported the Democrats’ short-term funding bill.

“This shutdown – the longest in history – must come to an end,” Collins said.

Neither of the the Senate bills – one pushed by Republicans, the other by Democrats – managed to get the votes needed to advance, essentially killing them. But the votes marked the first movement in the chamber this year to break the budget impasse that triggered the shutdown and may signal a possible path toward compromise amid signs the impasse is taking its toll on Trump.

“At least we’re finally talking,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Polls, meanwhile, show Trump is taking the brunt of the blame for the shutdown, now in its 34th day.

A poll released Wednesday by The Associated Press showed that six in 10 Americans blame the president for the shutdown. Just 34 percent of Americans approve of his job performance – down from 42 percent a month earlier and near the lowest mark of his two-year presidency.

Late Wednesday night, after a drama-filled day marked by a flurry of salvos between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump relented and said he would postpone his State of the Union address until after the shutdown has ended.

Earlier in the day, Trump sent Pelosi a letter saying he intended to deliver the speech in the House chamber on Jan. 29, dismissing her concerns about security for the high-profile event. Pelosi fired off another letter essentially disinviting Trump from delivering the speech that night. Trump threatened to find another venue for the speech, but retreated just before midnight and said he’d wait to deliver it after the shutdown is over.

“Thank goodness we’ve put that matter to rest and we can get on with the subject at hand – open up government so we can negotiate how best to protect our borders,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

Pelosi also chastised Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for saying Thursday that he doesn’t see why furloughed federal workers – who on Friday will miss their second paycheck since the shutdown began – are needing to go to food banks and are having trouble taking care of their families when they could just take out a loan.

“Is this the ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitude or ‘call your father for money’?” she asked.

Thursday’s Senate votes marked the first time this year the chamber has taken up legislation to bring the shutdown to an end.

Senators voted 50 to 47 to limit debate on a GOP bill that would provide $5.7 billion that Trump is demanding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and other concessions that Trump offered to Democrats over the weekend.

The bill failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, which killed the measure and triggered a vote on a second short-term measure that Democrats are pushing to reopen the government until Feb. 8.

The vote for that bill was 52 to 44, eight votes shy of the 60 it needed to pass. Even if it had been approved, Trump has threatened to veto it.

Romney told reporters afterward that he voted for both measures because he has heard “loud and clear from the people of Utah that they want our government to open again. They want this shutdown over.”

But Romney stressed that he would not support any final deal that doesn’t include funding for a barrier along the southern border and additional enforcement procedures.

Even though both bills failed, the votes could open the door for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to continue discussions to forge a compromise. In fact, McConnell requested Schumer to come to his office for a meeting after Thursday’s votes.

Also, a bipartisan group of 16 senators took to the Senate floor after the votes on Thursday to call for the government to reopen for three weeks. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said that will give lawmakers time to negotiate “in good faith to increase investment on border security.”

In another significant move, House Democratic leaders are drafting a letter to Trump that would propose $5 billion in border security if he agrees to reopen the government.

The Democrats’ proposal does not include money for any “new structures” along the southern border as the president demanded, so it is unlikely to move as is. But it does provide a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the shutdown and marks the first time Democratic leaders will broadly lay out what they might accept in a compromise.

Still, Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., warned that the shutdown could end up stretching “very, very long-term.”

“If Democrats are misreading this and thinking that the president is going to cave, they’re grossly misreading his resolve,” Meadows said.

Contributing: David Jackson

More: Exclusive: Trump ally Gingrich says White House, GOP should sweeten shutdown offer to attract Democrats

More: Donald Trump’s government shutdown cripples FBI, raises terrorism risk

 

 

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