Bringing a government shutdown to a close after three days, the Senate approved a bill to fund the operations of the federal government into February, as Democrats dropped their filibuster, accepting an assurance from Republicans that there would be an upcoming full Senate debate on immigration issues involving illegal immigrants who were brought to this country at a young age by their parents.
“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses,” President Donald Trump said in a written statement issued by the White House, as Republicans said the shutdown was a big political mistake by Democrats.
The Senate first voted 81-18 to end a filibuster that started late on Friday night; four hours later Senators voted by the same margin to approve the bill. House action is still needed to send it to President Trump, who could then sign it, and officially re-open the federal government.
“Shutting down the government is an irresponsible way to do business,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the “manufactured crisis” was a waste of time.
“The Trump shutdown will soon end,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, who had to fight off complaints from some in his own party that Democrats had simply folded under pressure.
The deal Schumer won with the GOP hinged on the pledge of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate dealing with DACA, illegal immigrant “Dreamers” and general immigration enforcement matters, if no deal is reached in negotiations by February 8.
“I’m encouraged by the commitments that Leader McConnell has made,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who joined other Democrats in supporting a move to re-open the federal government.
“I’m confident that we can get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for a DACA bill,” added Schumer, who said the process will be “neutral and fair to all sides.”
“We have a way to address the fate of the Dreamers, instead of waiting until March,” Schumer added, referencing the March 5 deadline set by President Donald Trump for action in Congress on that subject.
But even with this agreement, there is certainly no guarantee that Democrats will get a bill that they like on immigration – and no assurance that whatever gets approved by Senators – if anything – will be voted on in the House.
“The Majority Leader’s comments fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Because of that, the deal didn’t please some more liberal Democratic groups, which argued the promise of DACA action wasn’t enough.
“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats – led by weak-need, right-of-center Democrats – is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the group Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
But others on the Democratic side countered that it was the best that Schumer could do.
As for Republicans, it was also obvious that just because their leader had pledged to hold a DACA debate, that it didn’t mean it would go the way of the Democrats on the Senate floor.
“We’re not going to go through this charade again where Democrats shut down the government because they’re putting the interests of illegal immigrants and foreigners over American citizens,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats had finally accepted the deal after realizing that they were losing the political battle over the shutdown.
“The strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
“What was the point?” said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), a Republican who is running for U.S. “Absurd shenanigans by Senate Democrats,” Barletta tweeted.