Published: Fri, January 19, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Fractured US Republicans seek unity to avert shutdown

Fractured US Republicans seek unity to avert shutdown

Republicans control the House, the Senate and the presidency, but they still may not be able to garner the votes needed to pass even a short-term government spending bill.

Ryan and other GOP leaders are urging Schumer and Senate Democrats to support a four-week spending bill approved by the House Thursday night, saying they were the only ones standing in the way of keeping the government open.

President Donald Trump says Senate Democrats are focused on "illegal immigration and weak borders" as a government shutdown looms.

The bill would fund government for one month, reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years, and delay several Obamacare tax provisions.

Democrats want a deal that protects more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who were brought to America as children.

Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin said in a written statement that he will vote for a continuing resolution crafted by House GOP leadership in order to avoid a shutdown. And Politico says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already planning for a shutdown.

A government shutdown is not political strategy - it is calamitous evidence of bipartisan dysfunction, and, in this case, chaotic and cruel directives from the White House. Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for McConnell, argued that McConnell will force Democrats to repeatedly vote against a government spending bill over the weekend.

But prospects appeared gloomy in the Senate, where Democrats eager for leverage on budget and immigration deals were intent on shooting it down. Trump said it was up to opposition Democratic lawmakers to decide whether to vote to keep the government funded. Talks on a budget deal to ease tight spending limits on both the Pentagon and domestic agencies are on hold, as is progress on a huge $80 billion-plus disaster aid bill. Funding runs through midnight Friday and they got paid on Monday, so it's a non-issue unless a shutdown goes until February 1, assuming Congress will approve back pay. Trump in September announced a decision to end the DACA programme, but he gave Congress until March to come up with a solution. "And yet the majority leader of his party seems to have no idea what policy he would support".

Schumer said Thursday morning that the House CR would not be acceptable to Senate Democrats.

In the event of a shutdown, food inspections, federal law enforcement, airport security checks, and other vital services would continue, as would Social Security, other federal benefit programs and military operations.

"A vote against the underlying legislation is a vote to shut down the government of the United States", said Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican and vice chairman of the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters of debate.

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