Friday, January 19, 2018

Trump rejected an offer to put the border wall on the table, Schumer says

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said early Saturday morning that President Donald Trump walked away from an offer earlier in the day that would include putting a wall on the border with Mexico "on the table" in a potential deal to avoid a government shutdown.
Schumer made his remarks on the floor of the Senate minutes after the chamber failed to pass legislation that would have averted a shutdownand continued funding the federal government for four weeks. He followed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blamed Democrats for the Senate's failure to approve a bill passed by the Republican-controlled House on Thursday.
Schumer, however, resisted this characterization and pointed out that four Republican senators – Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky – voted in earnest against the continuing resolution. The New York Democrat then turned his ire on the president himself.
"The blame should crash entirely on President Trump's shoulders," Schumer said. "This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one who deserves the blame ... more than President Trump."
A White House representative did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment about Schumer's remarks.
Schumer had a 90-minute meeting with Trump on Friday in the Oval Office. Only Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, and Schumer's chief of staff were in the room with the senator and the president. Afterward, Schumer had a positive take on the meeting, although he did not say a deal was struck.
A wall along the American border with Mexico was the keystone of Trump's populist, nationalist pitch to voters in he 2016 campaign and remains a point of contention in the president's relationship with Congress. Democrats have largely resisted Trump's calls for billions of dollars to build the barrier.

Schumer Goes to the White House to Reopen Negotiations

• The government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Saturday if lawmakers fail to get an agreement on some kind of spending bill.

• On Thursday night, the House passed a short-term extension that would fund the government until mid-February.

• In the Senate, Democrats appear ready to block any deal, gambling that President Trump will have to offer concessions to avoid a shutdown.




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Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Schumer goes to the White House to meet Trump.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, went to the White House to reopen budget and immigration negotiations after President Trump reached out to him.
Mr. Trump canceled plans to travel to his Florida resort on Friday and will stay in Washington until a spending bill is passed, a White House official said Friday morning.

In an early-morning Twitter post on Friday, he put pressure on Democrats to keep the federal government open.




Marc Short, the White House legislative director, told reporters he’d last spoken to the president last night and that Mr. Trump was making calls to try to negotiate a deal. He wouldn’t say whom he had called.

“We’re trying to keep it open,” he said.

Mr. Short also said, “This is not about policy. This is about politics.”

White House budget director grows nervous.

Mick Mulvaney, who heads the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the Trump administration is preparing for “what we’re calling the ‘Schumer shutdown.’” Earlier Friday, Mr. Mulvaney put the likelihood of a shutdown at “50-50.

“We were operating under sort of a 30-percent shutdown” assumption on Thursday, he told reporters. “I think we’re ratcheting it up now.”

“I’m handicapping it now at some place between 50 and 60 percent.”

He added: “But again we’re planning for it as if it’s 100 percent.”



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Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, spoke with reporters on Friday. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

Mulvaney goes from shutdown instigator to government defender.

Mr. Mulvaney was once a ringleader of the so-called “Shutdown Caucus” when he helped orchestrate the shuttering of the government in 2013 as a hard-right member of the House.

Now, as Mr. Trump’s budget director, he is doing his best to avert one. At a White House briefing on Friday Mr. Mulvaney insisted that a shutdown was not a desirable outcome and that unlike the last such scenario under President Obama in 2013, the Trump administration was doing everything possible to avoid a funding lapse. He said that Democrats “weaponized” the shutdown back then for political purposes.

The tune on Friday was much different than five years ago when it was Mr. Mulvaney who dared Democrats over funding for the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Mulvaney also helped spearhead the debt ceiling brinkmanshipin 2011 over Republican demands to cut Planned Parenthood funding.

Republicans did bear much of the responsibility for the 2013 shutdown, and Mr. Mulvaney at the time tried to downplay the impact that the standoff was having on the government.

“In many ways, then, this is a government ‘slowdown’ more than it is a shutdown,” he said.
And while Mr. Mulvaney was quick to assail Mr. Obama’s lack of leadership for the most recent shutdown, he said on Friday that Mr. Trump should face no such blame if a shutdown happens on his watch.

“There’s no way you can lay this at the feet of the president of the United States,” he said.

Democrats face risks if they block the bill.

Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. But Democrats appear intent on securing concessions that would, among other things, protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

And they hope that Mr. Trump, scorched by the firestorm prompted by his vulgar, racially tinged comments on Africa last week, will be forced back to the negotiating table.

“Republicans control the House, they control the Senate and they control the presidency,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. “The government stays open if they want it to stay open, and it shuts down if they want it to shut down. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and time to start negotiating in good faith.”

If Democrats vote the bill down, the move would hold undeniable risks. Ten Senate Democrats are running for re-election in states that Mr. Trump won in 2016, and many of those states — such as Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia — may hold little sympathy for one of the primary causes of the looming shutdown: protecting young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.
But Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, argued on Friday that her party’s opposition to the stopgap bill was paying off.

“Because of the courage and leadership of congressional Democrats, our hand is greatly strengthened in our negotiations” over several Democratic priorities, she wrote in a letter to colleagues.

Ms. Pelosi had urged members of her caucus to vote against the stopgap measure, and only six House Democrats ended up voting for it.

“Last night, House Democrats demonstrated great unity in expressing our values and acting upon them,” she wrote in the letter. “I am writing to thank you and also to express the appreciation of so many across the country who have conveyed their gratitude for our taking a strong stand.”

Read more from Thomas Kaplan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg »



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Tourists at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in 2015. Credit Felicia Fonseca/Associated Press

Don’t worry about that Yosemite vacation.

National Parks will remain open even if the government shuts down, the Department of Interior announced Thursday in a move that could help assuage public anger at Republicans if Congress fails to agree to a budget.

From the Lincoln Memorial to the Grand Canyon, more than 400 National Park Service parks and properties have been the most visible faces of past government shutdowns.

The last time Congress failed to agree on a budget, in 2013, a group of veterans aided by Republican lawmakers ignored barricades at the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., to visit the site. In southeastern Utah, county commissioners decided to reopen Natural Bridges National Monument in act of self-declared civil disobedience.

“We fully expect the government to remain open, however in the event of a shutdown, national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures,” Heather Swift, an Interior Department spokeswoman said in a statement.

She noted that some services that require staffing and maintenance, like campgrounds and full-service restrooms, will not operate.
“The American public and especially our veterans who come to our nation’s capital will find war memorials and open air parks open to the public,” she said.

Jacque Simon, public policy director for the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, said federal workers have not yet been given any instructions about how agencies plan to operate or whom will be sent home if a shutdown occurs. Keeping the parks open, she said, is a smart political move.

“The White House is very conscious of what’s popular and what’s not, and I think one of the memorable images from the last shutdown was World War II veterans who had come to D.C. to visit the then-relatively new World War II Memorial being turned away. It was not a good visual,” she said.

Ms. Simon said a shutdown would be an “economic disaster” for federal employees, and said she is concerned that national parks my remain open by the government paying contractors while sending federal workers on furlough. That, she said, would amount to an illegal privatization of the work force.

“We will be watching that very closely,” she said.

Environmental activists criticized the plan to keep open the national parks, calling it dangerous to visitors as well as illegal under the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1998 that mandates the government can’t spend funds that haven’t been appropriated.

“It’s nothing more than a baldfaced attempt to divert Americans’ attention away from the G.O.P.’s extreme agenda,” Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
— Lisa Friedman

The I.R.S. would take a shutdown hit at a terrible time.

President Trump has warned that a government shutdown could blunt the effect of his tax cuts, and he could have a point.

Tax filing season starts in less than two weeks and if Congress does not reach a funding deal, the Internal Revenue Service, which has been swamped with work trying to implement the new tax law, would take a big hit. That could take a toll on the tax collection agency’s ability to ensure a smooth transition and deal with the tsunami of questions coming from confused taxpayers.
The National Employees Treasury Union said that 87 percent of I.R.S. employees would be sent home in the event of a shutdown.

That comes at a time when the agency was already understaffed, having lost 21,000 full-time employees since 2010 as its budget has dwindled.
— Alan Rappeport

The fault lines over a deal aren’t purely partisan.

While most Republicans in the Senate are likely to vote to keep the government open and most Democrats will oppose that, there are several factions involved. Have a look at who wants what »



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These Factions in Congress, Split Over ‘Dreamers,’ Could Lead to Government Shutdown

A deal to avoid closing the federal government hinges on Senate Democrats, and some Republicans, who want to include protections for young undocumented immigrants.
OPEN Graphic

NYT

The Chaos President vs. His Iron-Fisted Chief of Staff

The one thing sure to make President Trump angry, as anyone who has ever worked closely with him knows, is any suggestion that his staff is managing him.

Yet early Wednesday evening, after learning from a White House aide that his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, had described his views about his signature, base-pleasing campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexico border as “not informed,” and his thinking as “evolving,” the president was initially calm.

It did not last. By Wednesday night, Mr. Trump had become convinced by a string of allies and friends he had talked to on the phone that Mr. Kelly had undermined him, according to people familiar with the conversations. And by Thursday morning, after digesting accounts of Mr. Kelly’s comments on cable news, the president was riled up.

As the television blared, he typed out a series of tweets that rebutted Mr. Kelly without actually naming him. “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” Mr. Trump wrote at 6:15 a.m. Later in the morning, the president spoke to his chief of staff, and made his displeasure clear, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
The reaction was familiar to veterans of Mr. Trump’s campaign and his White House. But that kind of conflict has played out infrequently since Mr. Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff in July. For different reasons, both Mr. Kelly and Mr. Trump have an interest in preserving their relationship, according to people close to both men.


Still, the public airing of grievances was perhaps an inevitable clash between two temperamentally similar but philosophically different alpha males who for almost six months have been nearly inseparable despite lacking any previous relationship to speak of.

Some view the relationship as dysfunctional. When a president’s chief of staff speaks to members of Congress, it should be a “consistent message,” Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, said in an interview with CNN. The inconsistency, said Mr. Cuellar, who attended the meeting on Wednesday where Mr. Kelly made some of his remarks, “makes it hard” to negotiate.

Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Kelly are used to being in charge, and both are prone to dramatic outbursts of temper, according to interviews with a half-dozen White House officials. Both have a tendency to say different things to different audiences, and Mr. Kelly is more strident about the need to restrict immigration than some people had realized.

They depart over management philosophy: Mr. Trump favors chaos, and Mr. Kelly believes in strict command and control. And while Mr. Trump believes in his abilities as a salesman, Mr. Kelly is unused to being thrust in front of the national political spotlight.

Many members of Congress, like Mr. Cuellar, had expected Mr. Kelly to be a force for stability in a White House that has at times seemed consumed with dysfunction, but have found a different reality.

“He brought some order to the chaos that was there, but it’s a long way from a functioning White House,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat, said in an interview for “The Daily,” a New York Times podcast. “His role from time to time I’ve considered to be destructive, sometimes constructive. I wonder, you know, if he really is the man I thought he was when I voted for him as secretary of D.H.S.”

Mr. Durbin, who has clashed with Mr. Trump over his assertion that the president used a vulgar term in an immigration meeting last week, was referring to the Department of Homeland Security, which Mr. Kelly led before taking his current position.
Mr. Kelly has made little secret of the fact that he never wanted to be White House chief of staff, and took the job out of the same sense of duty that led him to a four-decade career in the Marines.
In the West Wing, Mr. Kelly seldom allows the staff to forget the dynamic, according to people who have observed him, often positioning himself as a one-man check against dangerous or reckless moves by the commander in chief. His loyalty is not to the president, “but to the Constitution and the country,” he has said, according to two people with direct knowledge of his remarks.

Mr. Kelly, officials say, has made a conscious decision not to focus as much on curbing the president’s penchant for tweeting or saying inflammatory things, and to instead pour his efforts into controlling who sees and talks to Mr. Trump and trying to shape his thinking on key issues.

“I have said many times I was not put in this job to change the way the president of the United States does business,” he said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday. “I was put in the job to make sure the staff process better informs him on a range of issues.”

“Let Trump be Trump,” one White House official said on Thursday, summarizing Mr. Kelly’s approach to managing the president’s behavior. One senior administration official called it a “blind spot.”

Mr. Kelly has had successes at bringing tighter control and implementing systems in a chaotic White House, removing disruptive and seemingly immovable staff members such as Omarosa Manigault Newman, and overseeing the process of pushing a tax bill through Congress.

Early in his tenure, Mr. Kelly frequently threatened to quit as a way of getting people, particularly the president, to follow his orders, according to four people close to Mr. Trump. One adviser to the president said that it was among the few weapons in Mr. Kelly’s arsenal, and another said that he used it less regularly now. Mr. Kelly has denied in the past to The New York Times that he ever threatened to quit.

But he has been known to storm out of meetings or briefings if they take a direction he doesn’t like, other advisers said. He has repeatedly barked at senior advisers who have conversations with Mr. Trump that Mr. Kelly did not authorize.

Some White House officials believe that Mr. Kelly has been hurt by the extraordinarily high expectations many had that he would bring discipline and moderation to a freewheeling White House that had previously empowered the most extreme voices. His inability to do that has left some staff members demoralized.
Others describe themselves as feeling safer, particularly compared to the period when Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief strategist, and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were constantly at war using damaging leaks. And nearly all say that Mr. Kelly has brought a semblance of order to a White House in which people during the first weeks of the Trump presidency wandered through without appointments, dropping things off for the president or showing up in the Oval Office unannounced.

But many at the White House say that Mr. Kelly has benefited too much from the constant comparison to Mr. Priebus, who was never empowered, and that morale has grown worse in the nearly six months that Mr. Kelly has had the job.
This is partly a result of exhaustion, and many staff members interviewed for this article said they were beginning a second year at the White House with less a sense of excitement and purpose than dread.

Some aides also say that for weeks Mr. Trump has been fielding complaints from allies and staff members about the strictures Mr. Kelly has placed on access to the president and his enforcement of a chain of command.

Mr. Kelly has been unable to fill a number of White House jobs, and talented and capable people who understand Mr. Trump are in short supply. Mr. Kelly has told colleagues he is untroubled by most of the departures. But people have warned the president that he faces a staff exodus among senior officials, who are worn down by a year in the White House and dismayed that the work environment has not gotten better, according to three people familiar with those conversations.


Yet some of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving aides are said to work well with Mr. Kelly. Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, has repeatedly praised him. And Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who had at one point considered leaving, has told the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and others that he likes Mr. Kelly and would stay if he remains, two people close to the White House said.

Mr. Kelly told Fox News on Wednesday that he planned to do just that.

“I am in this for the long haul,” Mr. Kelly said. “It is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. Because if the administration fails, if the president of the United States is uninformed one time and makes the wrong decision, that’s on me.”




Continue reading the main story

NYT

Thursday, January 18, 2018

House approves bill to keep government open as Senate Democrats threaten to block it

The House passed a short-term extension of government funding late Thursday after Republican leaders, with help from President Trump, cobbled together enough GOP votes to overcome an internal revolt.
Still, the possibility of a federal shutdown moved closer to a certainty after Senate Democrats rallied against the GOP proposal, announcing they would not lend their votes to a bill that did not reflect their priorities on immigration, government spending and other issues.
By Thursday evening, nine Senate Democrats who had voted for a prior spending measure in December said they would not support the latest proposed four-week extension, joining 30 other Democrats and at least three Senate Republicans — leaving the bill short of the 60 votes needed to advance.
Senators of both parties voted to open debate on the House bill late Thursday, but Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats remained opposed and floated an extension of just a few days to allow talks on a broader agreement to continue.
Republican leaders rejected that suggestion. They did not lay out a Plan B to pursue if the House bill is ultimately rejected, except to finger Democrats for a shutdown.

“I ask the American people to understand this: The only people in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday night. “Whether there is a government shutdown or not is entirely up to them.”
Senate GOP leaders prepared to force Democrats into a series of uncomfortable votes, aimed at splitting their ranks by pitting moderates from states that Trump won against party leaders and the handful of outspoken liberals considering a run for the presidency.
For one, Republicans attached a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and delays to several unpopular health-care taxes. The bill does not include protections for “dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children or who overstayed their visas as children, a top Democratic priority.
That represented an election-year bid by the GOP to cast the spending vote as, in part, a choice between poor children and undocumented immigrants. Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans also sought to highlight the potential erosion to military readiness that could result from a shutdown.
Emboldened Democratic leaders, meanwhile, rallied lawmakers for a showdown on what they believe is favorable ground, fighting on behalf of popular policies against an unpopular president who has had a brutal week of news coverage. As Thursday wore on, undecided senators steadily stepped forward to say that they would oppose the Republican measure — risking GOP political attacks and angry constituents.
Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner, Virginia Democrats who represent tens of thousands of federal employees who stand to be furloughed during a shutdown, said they could not vote for a bill that did not include relief for dreamers, disaster funding, opioid treatment funding and more — echoing the demands of Democratic leaders.
2:19
Lawmakers let funding lapse. Now 9 million kids are at risk of losing insurance
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9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women could see the end to their health insurance, if lawmakers don't act.
“These issues are not going away and need to be addressed immediately,” they said in a joint statement that also criticized Trump: “He has to decide whether he wants to be President and engage in necessary compromise, or continue offering commentary from the sidelines.”
Trump fired back at Democrats during a trip to Coraopolis, Pa., saying that they’re pushing for a shutdown to distract voters from the GOP’s recent tax legislation. “That is not a good subject for them, the tax cuts,” Trump said.
The late-night showdown capped a long, tense day on Capitol Hill that began with a flurry of tweets from Trump that doubled down on his demands for an expensive border wall and accused Democrats of snubbing the military. Another tweet, however, seemed to upend the Republican strategy for avoiding a shutdown and contradict his administration’s stated policy position — suggesting that the children’s health program ought not to be attached to a temporary spending bill.
Republican lawmakers and aides, who were already pressed to secure enough GOP votes to get the bill through the House, scrambled to decipher Trump’s intentions. Much as he had to do a week ago after Trump tweeted about an intelligence bill, Ryan got on the phone with the president to clarify matters, and hours later, the White House confirmed that Trump indeed supported the bill.
The tweets inflamed frustrations in both parties over what they characterized as an all-too-often uncooperative president.
“We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “This has turned into an s-show for no good reason.”
Schumer called Trump and his administration “agents of chaos” who have foiled attempts to reach a bipartisan agreement on immigration, which remained the most salient sticking point Thursday.
“The one thing standing in our way is the unrelenting flow of chaos from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue,” Schumer said. “It has reduced the Republicans to shambles. We barely know who to negotiate with.”
Meanwhile, Republican leaders were having trouble smoothing out a wrinkle in their plans to blame a shutdown on Democrats: Hard-line House conservatives demanded concessions in return for their votes, casting doubt on whether the funding patch would even reach the Senate.
All but a few House Democrats said they would not support the bill without an immigration or long-term budget deal.
“If we can’t agree, your party has the majority in the House and the Senate to pass your own funding resolution. But that will be a bill we cannot support,” 171 of 193 House Democrats wrote in a letter to Ryan on Thursday.
While Ryan worked the House floor during an afternoon vote series, trying to lock down votes for the patch, leaders of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus tried to persuade Republicans to withhold their votes.
“I promise you he doesn’t have the votes,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), heading to a closed-door Freedom Caucus meeting, where Trump called in to try to win over restive conservatives.
Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) then went into Ryan’s office, where they hashed out a deal with Republican leaders to secure future votes on measures that would increase defense spending and tighten immigration laws. With that accord in place, the House voted 230 to 197 to pass the legislation. Only five Democrats broke ranks to support it.
Senators strategized through the day on how to turn the clash to their advantage — retreating into party lunches to plan for a showdown that could stretch into the weekend or beyond.
Reflecting the election-year stakes, aides to McConnell told senior staffers that he was intent on muscling the bill through the upper chamber and putting pressure on Democrats to vote for it, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
“Let’s bring the House bill over and have a quick vote and make the Democrats up in 2018 figure out what they want to do,” the person said of the meeting.
Ten Democrats are seeking reelection in states that voted for Trump in 2016, and Republicans believe that they can force them into tough votes that would either force a rift in the Democratic ranks or provide powerful fodder for political attacks later in the year.
Democrats expressed confidence that they would come out on top in the public-opinion battle over who would shoulder the blame for a shutdown — citing broad public sympathy for dreamers, political winds blowing against Republicans and Trump’s approach to bipartisan negotiations.
Last week, he rejected an immigration compromise in an Oval Office meeting where he referred to poor nations as “shithole countries,” driving days of public criticism.
“I think their argument falls apart because of last week in the Oval Office, because of their inability to even get a [temporary funding bill] out of the House in a timely fashion without making concessions to the Freedom Caucus,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Even as a shutdown grew more likely, some senators hoped to find a path away from it. Some senators discussed the possibility of passing one- or two-day extensions of government funding to avoid a shutdown while lawmakers continue to negotiate.
But Republican leaders did not immediately embrace the idea, and it was unclear how it would work for the House, which is scheduled to be out of session next week.
Top leaders of both parties continued meeting Thursday to seek an immigration compromise, but no agreement appeared to be in sight. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), leaving a meeting with other deputy leaders, rejected the idea that a deal to protect dreamers could be concluded by Friday evening at midnight. “No, no,” he told reporters.
The government shutdown causing employee furloughs has never occurred under unified party control of Congress and the White House.
The Trump administration is drawing up plans to keep national parks and monuments open despite a shutdown as a way to blunt public anger, and while the military would not cease to operate, troops would not be paid unless Congress specifically authorizes it.
The last shutdown, in 2013, lasted for 16 days as Republicans tried unsuccessfully to force changes to the Affordable Care Act. On Jan. 30, Trump is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address.









































Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey, Sean Sullivan, John Wagner and Erica Werner contributed.

Senate Democrats gather votes to block spending bill; White House slams Congress over possible shutdown


Senate Democrats signaled Thursday that they have enough votes to block a short-term spending bill to keep the government open, as the White House expressed frustration with the Republican-led Congress for “being unable to do its job.”
At least nine members of the Senate Democratic Caucus who supported the last short-term spending bill in December said they will oppose the latest patch, according to multiple congressional aides.
They are Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark R. Warner (Va.).
The House planned to vote Thursday night, and the Senate could act shortly thereafter.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah offered an upbeat prediction earlier Thursday that the government would remain open, despite growing signs on Capitol Hill that GOP leaders did not have the votes for a short-term spending bill.
“A minimal function of Congress is to fund the government,” Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One. “That is a very basic and fundamental duty.”
The short-term spending bill would keep the government open through Feb. 16 while extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and rolling back several taxes in the Affordable Care Act. It does not include a solution for “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, as Democrats have demanded.
Reflecting the election-year stakes, aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told senior staffers that he is intent on muscling the bill through the upper chamber and putting pressure on Democrats to vote for it, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
The message at the meeting was: “Let’s bring the House bill over and have a quick vote and make the Democrats up in 2018 figure out what they want to do,” the person said.
McConnell’s prime targets in his goal to increase his majority are the 10 Democrats from states that voted for President Trump in 2016.
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Ryan says the House is 'in a good place' on GOP spending bill
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said "members understand why on earth we wouldn't want to have a government shutdown," and is confident they will pass a bill.
In the House, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed confidence that the bill would pass, though Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) predicted that GOP leaders would come up short despite last-minute arm-twisting on the House floor.
Meadows said he spoke to Trump during a meeting of the Freedom Caucus, but that nothing had changed at that point.
Speaking for Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) signaled the gravity of the situation by speaking in the present tense about a shutdown as if one was already happening.
“It’s really almost like amateur hour,” she told reporters at her weekly news briefing.
Even if the House manages to approve the short-term spending bill, the measure’s chances of passage in the Senate are slim.
A growing number of lawmakers said they opposed the deal — not over immigration, but because they are tired of passing stopgap measures — and demanded that negotiations continue on a longer-term spending bill.
“We do not support perpetuating the current budgetary dysfunction that is hurting our country and our Commonwealth,” Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. “The Republican leadership has to get serious about finding a budget deal and quit relying on short-term patches.
Republican Sens. Mike Rounds (S.D.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) also said they would vote no.
The growing opposition led some senators to discuss the possibility of a new approach: passing one- or two-day extensions of government funding to avoid a shutdown while lawmakers continue to negotiate.
“I’ll vote for one more short-term, but that’s it,” Graham said.
But Republican leaders did not immediately embrace the idea, and it was unclear how it would work for the House, which is scheduled to be out of session next week.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), leaving a meeting with other deputy leaders, rejected the idea that an immigration deal could be concluded by Friday at midnight. “No, no,” he told reporters.
If the government closes and its employees are furloughed, it will be the first time under unified party control of Congress and the White House.
The Trump administration is drawing up plans to keep national parks and monuments open despite a possible shutdown as a way to blunt public anger, and while the military would not cease to operate, troops would not be paid unless Congress specifically authorizes it.
The last shutdown, in 2013, did not end for 16 days as Republicans tried unsuccessfully to force changes to the Affordable Care Act.
This time, GOP lawmakers are forcing Democrats into the politically uncomfortable position of choosing between funding CHIP and their effort to win legal protections for dreamers. Republicans are already preparing political attacks on Democrats who vote no, party aides said.
Despite this, all but a few House Democrats said they would not support the bill without an immigration or budget deal.
“If we can’t agree, your party has the majority in the House and the Senate to pass your own funding resolution. But that will be a bill we cannot support,” 171 of 193 House Democrats wrote in a letter to Trump.
The president fired back at Democrats during a trip to Coraopolis, Pa., arguing they’re pushing for a shutdown to distract voters from the GOP’s tax cuts. “That is not a good subject for them, the tax cuts,” Trump said.
GOP lawmakers had spent the morning trying to make sense of several early-morning tweets by Trump that seemed to contradict Republicans’ legislative strategy.
In a back-and-forth reminiscent of last week, when Trump tweeted criticism of an intelligence bill that his administration had endorsed the day before, the president appeared to call for the separation of a long-term extension of CHIP from a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through mid-February.
While Republicans like Ryan suggested that the president was endorsing the GOP’s approach, others found the tweets inexplicable and unhelpful ahead of a possible election-year shutdown.
“We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with,” Graham said Thursday morning. “This has turned into an s-show for no good reason.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed Graham’s sentiment.
“We barely know who to negotiate with,” he said, complaining about Trump’s tweets. “[Republicans] point at each other and nothing gets done.”
Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey, Sean Sullivan, John Wagner and Erica Werner contributed.

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