Despite 11th-hour meetings between President Donald Trump and leaders of both parties in Congress, efforts to avert a government shutdown have all but failed. A sticking point was the status of over 700,000 illegal immigrants.
With just 1 hour and 45 minutes of federal funding remaining late Friday night, the Senate fell short of the necessary 60 votes to limit debate on the continuing resolution (CR) that would temporarily provide the government spending power until February 16.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) waited to vote, the 50-48 tally went predictably along partisan lines mostly, with at least one Democrat and four Republicans breaking from their parties. The Republicans were Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The breakaway Democrat was Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
The GOP accused the Democrats of wanting the vote to fail, so a government shutdown would hurt Trump politically. Meanwhile, the Democrats blamed Republicans for stalling the entire legislative process and not including permanent protections for the “Dreamers,” those nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children and who have been covered under the Obama-era DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
While Republicans point to DACA’s March deadline as being non-urgent, as opposed to the midnight deadline to fund the government, Democrats argue the Republicans have agreed with codifying DACA during negotiations.
Republicans had included a six-year entension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, to entice more Democrats to join them. However, the move was interpreted as cheap tokenism, as the GOP has allowed the program to expire in years prior. Democrats said they wanted a more complete package, including opioid crisis funding.