For the eighth time in two weeks, Congress on Thursday went through a familiar round of arguments as the House approved a bill to re-open federal agencies which lost funding before Christmas, with Democrats demanding that Senate Republicans consider those measures to end a partial government shutdown, while GOP Senators said they would not act until there was an agreement on funding for the border wall backed by President Donald Trump.
“What a stupid way to run a business,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, as Democrats accused Senate Republicans of abdicating their constitutional responsibilities.
“The House of Representatives is in a perpetual cycle of Groundhog Day,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), as Republicans again said until Democrats give wall funding to the President, there is no reason for any votes on bills to end the partial government shutdown.
“This is all just theater, this is all just political theater,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), as Republicans remained steadfast in saying they would not vote to re-open the government until the President had his wall money, while Democrats said they would not negotiate on border security funding until the government was open again.
Democrats continued to partly blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the impasse, imploring him to allow the House-passed government funding bills to be considered on the Senate floor.
Off the floors of the House and Senate, there were no indications in the hallways of the Capitol of any developing negotiations between Democrats and the White House, as after 27 days of a partial shutdown, it was obvious that the standoff would go into the weekend, and into next week.
“Almost everybody wants to secure the border, almost everybody wants to open up government,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “What can’t it happen?”
Democrats said the reason was in the Senate, where after two weeks of the 116th Congress, no funding bills had yet been brought to the floor, even as over 800,000 federal workers missed one paycheck last week, and were in danger of missing another on January 25.
“The people want the wall, the people want border security,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), as there was no evidence that GOP lawmakers were going to break from the President, leaving the stalemate in place, with federal workers around the country – some working, some not – waiting to be paid.
“I’m not for a wall,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, as Democrats showed no evidence of any split, either. “I’m concerned about workers not having any paychecks.”
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration called back more workers on Thursday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to work on needed paperwork for farmers around the nation.
“Not knowing when I go back to work is starting to get a bit old,” one idled federal worker told me.
And for now, it looks like the shutdown is not going to be over anytime soon.
“A wall has to be built,” the President said in a speech at the Pentagon.
The latest vote in the House Thursday on a temporary funding bill was disputed by Republicans, who claimed they asked for a final recorded vote – though the video did not show any such GOP request; Democrats allowed for a re-vote next week in the House, as Majority Leader Hoyer said there will also be several other votes on measures to fund the government.