The impasse over funding the federal government came to an end in just its third day Monday when Senate Democrats agreed to end their opposition and pass a short-term spending bill.
Shortly after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced that the Democrats were ending their opposition in exchange for a promise to negotiate a deal for illegal immigrants called “Dreamers,” both the Senate and House were expected to quickly pass three-week spending resolutions for President Trump to sign later in the day.
In remarks on the Senate floor Sunday night, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said, “This shutdown isn’t helping anyone. It isn’t helping Americans who need access to vital government services. It isn’t helping federal employees who should be working instead of being furloughed. And it sure isn’t helping nine million children who need basic health care services. Let’s re-open the government and let’s get back to work.”
Later, after Schumer’s announcement that Democrats would drop their opposition to the spending bill, Portman’s counterpart in the Senate, Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), said, “We cannot continue limping along from one budget to the next – that’s no way to run our government,” said Brown. “Over the weekend I talked to Republicans and Democrats, and I’m confident we are very close to reaching a long-term compromise to provide the certainty Ohio families deserve. That’s why I’m voting today to reopen the government.”
Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new reassurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks.
Schumer lent his backing to the agreement during a speech on the chamber’s floor. “Now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate,” he said of legislation to halt any deportation efforts aimed at “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country as children and are now here illegally.
Earlier Monday, McConnell raised hopes for a quick end to the shutdown, saying “I hope and intend” to reach agreement soon on immigration and other contentious issues — if the Democrats agreed to the stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks.
The vote came as most government offices cut back drastically or even closed on Monday, as the major effects of the shutdown were first being felt with the beginning of the workweek. Before the government can reopen the Senate must vote on final passage, the House must approve it in turn, and President Donald Trump must sign.
McConnell said he hopes to reach bipartisan solutions on immigration, border security, disaster aid, military funding and more by Feb. 8. If not, he said “it would be my intention to take up legislation” addressing those issues.
The Senate over the weekend inched closer but ultimately fell short of a deal that could have reopened the government before the beginning of the workweek. McConnell and Schumer said negotiations lasted late into the night.
On Sunday night, Democrats appeared to be holding out for a firmer commitment from McConnell. “We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward,” Schumer said then.
There were hours of behind-the-scenes talks over the weekend between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the display of legislative dysfunction, which began at midnight Friday after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure. Democrats have sought to use the spending bill to win concessions, including protections for roughly 700,000 younger immigrants.
Republicans had appeared increasingly confident that Democrats were bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they would ultimately buckle. The White House and GOP leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government was reopened.
President Trump on Monday accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for noncitizens over U.S. citizens. “Not good,” his first tweet said. In a second tweet, he said, “Democrats have shut down our government in the interests of their far left base. They don’t want to do it but are powerless!”