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18 January 2018, 01:55 | Colleen Roy
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Republicans on Wednesday night are scrambling to secure enough votes to get a continued resolution passed that will keep the government open, averting the first federal shutdown since 2013 - but if they're unsuccessful, many GOPers plan to blame their colleagues across the aisle.
Republican leaders have repeatedly pointed to a group newly formed last week - one comprised of the second-ranked leaders in both chambers (Durbin and Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas in the Senate, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland in the House) as their preferred mechanism for a deal.
"What's their argument? We need to shut down the government and not fund children's health insurance?" asked Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, referring to Democrats' unwillingness to commit to voting for a continuing resolution.
Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) sidestepped questions about whether he thought Democrats should decline to support a short-term funding bill if a deal to continue legal protections for immigrants under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy isn't reached.
Democrats and Republicans remain deeply divided on the DACA immigration debate, and Democrats are insisting the next government funding bill include money for DACA in order to snag any Democratic votes.
Democrats' votes are needed to advance the stopgap measure through the Senate, but they have been rebuffed in their demands to add protections against deportation for younger immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. President Donald Trump signed the previous continuing resolution into law on December 22, after it passed the House with 17 GOP defections - enough to pass with Republican votes, although 14 House Democrats backed it as well.
Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican and leader of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said enough of his members were ready to vote against the stopgap bill to prevent it from passing without Democratic votes.
"I find it hard to believe that my Democratic colleagues would want to shut down the government for American citizens and vote down a six-year reauthorization of health insurance for American children all over illegal immigration", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
"I think cool heads hopefully will prevail on this", he said. "Knowing the reluctance of many of my members, I am getting prepared for what I believe will be a very contentious meeting as we discuss doing a short-term CR for the fourth time in six months". He added that Democrats "will do everything we can" to avoid a shutdown. He said an "overwhelming number" of Democratic senators do not support it. Trumpannounced in September he would cancel the program and it expires on March 5.
Days later he reversed course, rejecting a bipartisan plan submitted to him at a White House meeting during which he also reportedly lashed out at immigration from "shithole" countries.
On Wednesday's broadcast of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports", Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated that the treatment of DREAMers is "one of the great moral crises of our time" and allowing them to be subjected to deportation is "unspeakable".
Menendez said he hoped it was clear to Kelly that "they're going to have to come more to the center if they truly want a fix".
Republicans in the House are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to talk about possible changes, The Journal reported.
"We don't have the majority; they have the majority", he said. Democrats are demanding that a path to legalization or citizenship for the immigrants be part of a spending cap deal or even a temporary spending bill.
Temporary government funding runs out January 19 and the House and Senate will have to pass a temporary extension to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government.
House Republican leaders tried to win over wary conservatives for the spending bill by sweetening it.
The restive House Freedom Caucus made a bid Tuesday to have a full-year defense spending bill inserted into the stopgap but appeared to be rebuffed.
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