Day 2 of shutdown begins with blame, not bargain

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center, R-Ky., walks to his office early Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at the Capitol in Washington. The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol on Sunday with plenty of bluster but few prospects for a bargain as the second day of the government shutdown ticked on.

The stark divide between both parties was on full display as lawmakers took to the Sunday shows to assign fault for the funding impasse on their political opponents, while offering little optimism that a compromise is on the horizon.

“You can’t blame Donald Trump for Senate Democrats shutting down the government. They shut down the government with no endgame in sight,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said on CBS News’ “Face The Nation.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have dubbed the stalled negotiations the “Trump shutdown,” and say the GOP’s control of both the White House and Congress puts the blame squarely on their shoulders.

“I wish the president would help us. At some point his leadership could make the difference,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said on NBC News’ “Meet The Press.” He declined to offer a prediction if the government will be funded by Monday night.

The Senate reconvened early Sunday afternoon, with a vote scheduled for 1 a.m. Monday on a three-week spending bill. The House remained in recess but members were advised that votes were possible today. Ryan said he would support the short-term legislation that would keep the government funded through February 8, but it is unclear if the measure has enough support in the Senate to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance.

“This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech opening the Senate floor. “Today would be a good day to end it.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on President Trump to return to the bargaining table. “I’m willing to seal the deal, to sit and work right now, with the president or anyone he designates. Let’s get it done.”

“This is the Trump shutdown, only President Trump can end it.” Schumer said. “We Democrats are at the table, ready to negotiate. The president needs to pull up a chair and end this shutdown.” But McConnell was quick to note that it’s Democrats in the Senate who are using procedural rules to block passage of the short-term bill and Republicans are calling the standoff the “Schumer shutdown.”

The heart of the contentious deliberations has centered on immigration reform and the protections for so-called Dreamers, the children of undocumented immigrants. President Donald Trump moved to undo the Obama-era program that is now set to expire March 5, and the White House has said any move to reauthorize the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals needs to be accompanied by funding for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Skeptical Democrats maintain that the weeks-long spending bill being considered in the Senate is just a stalling tactic that will not lead to a serious legislative debate about immigration reform.

“We need to have clear assurance that if we can pass…a bill in the Senate, it’ll be taken up in the House and won’t be ignored,” Durbin said Sunday.

Vice President Mike Pence, however, signalled in a speech to U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East that immigration reform is not on the table until the government is up and running again.

“We’re going to demand that they reopen the government,” Pence said. “In fact, we’re not going to reopen negotiations on illegal immigration until they reopen the government and give you, our soldiers and your families, the benefits and wages you’ve earned.”

*News Searching By NBC*

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