Republicans and Democrats appear to be hardening their positions
as both sides hunker down for what could be a prolonged fight, with
a US government shutdown in its second day.
Democrats demanded that US President Donald Trump negotiate on
immigration issues as part of any agreement to resume government
They accused him of reneging on an earlier accord to protect
Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought to the United States as
children, from deportation.
I hope it is just a matter of hours or days. But we need to have
a substantive answer, and the only person who can lead us to that
is President Trump. This is his shutdown, Dick Durbin, the second
ranking Democrat in the Senate, said on the CBS Face the Nation
program on Sunday.
Republicans were just as adamant, saying they would not
negotiate immigration or other issues as long as all but essential
government services remain shuttered.
Speaking to US troops at a military base in the Middle East,
Vice President Mike Pence said, Were 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 youve earned.
A bipartisan group of senators met on Sunday in a Senate office
building, searching for ways out of the crisis.
Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins said a group of as
many as 22 senators were discussing alternatives, though the
details were in flux.
After funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on
Friday, many US government employees were told to stay home or in
some cases work without pay until new funding is approved.
The shutdown is the first since a 16-day closure in October
Trump said on Sunday that if the stalemate continued,
Republicans should change Senate rules so a measure could be passed
to fund the government.
Current Senate rules require a super-majority of three-fifths of
the chamber, usually 60 out of 100, for legislation to clear
procedural hurdles and pass.
If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51 percent
(Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, Trump said on
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, from Trumps own
party, rejected the idea.
Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate.The Senate
will vote early on Monday on whether to advance a measure to fund
the government through February 8, unless Democrats agree to hold
it sooner, McConnell said on Saturday.
The level of support for the bill was uncertain, but given
Democratic leaders public statements, it seemed unlikely the
measure would receive the 60 votes required to advance.