Team Schumer caves on filibuster, paving way for end to government shutdown

The Senate on Monday voted 81-18 to break a Democratic filibuster on a government spending bill, opening the way for Congress to approve the stopgap measure and end the three-day government closure.

Democrats completely backed off their opposition, after being given assurances from majority Republicans.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer made clear that Senate Democrats would supply the GOP-controlled Senate with the votes needed, but only in exchange for “fair” and immediate efforts to consider legislation that would protect illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

“We will vote today to reopen the government,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “In a few hours, the government will reopen.”

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The 100-member, the Republican-controlled chamber will now need only a simple majority to pass the temporary spending bill that would keep the government open until Feb. 8. The House would then have to approve the bill, sending it to President Trump’s desk.

The funding and reopening of the government would allow U.S. military personnel to be paid, end the furlough of nearly 1 million federal workers and resume all federal services and operations.

After days and weeks of blaming and finger-pointing, a bipartisan group of senators met Sunday and brokered a deal in which rank-and-file members would provide the 60 votes in exchange for Senate leaders’ promise to immediately proceed to immigration reform.

Democrats on Capitol Hill largely opposed the stopgap spending bill because it did not include measures to protect the illegal immigrants from deportation under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order.

President Donald Trump last year set a deadline of early March to end the protections. The president has indicated that he wants to provide permanent protections for the young illegal immigrants but has insisted that border security, in particular, funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, be included in any such deal.

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Under the likely deal to end the filibuster, Schumer said Monday they would negotiate on immigration, and immediately consider such legislation if there’s no agreement by Feb. 8.

Schumer lauded the bipartisan group’s weekend efforts and suggested the group could lead efforts to replace DACA with permanent, legislative protections.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then thanked Schumer and said: “I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future. So I’m glad we’ve gotten past that.”

With Republicans having just 50 senators available to vote Monday, they needed the support of roughly a dozen Democratic senators to break the filibuster. They got 33.

Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain did not vote because he’s home fighting cancer.

McConnell on Sunday night indicated a deal was in the works to break the filibuster, in exchange for immediately addressing Democrats’ desire for immigration reform.

“When the Democrat filibuster of the government funding bill ends, the serious, bipartisan negotiations that have been going on for months now to resolve our unfinished business — military spending; disaster relief; health care; immigration and border security — will continue,” he said Sunday in announcing the Monday vote.

“It would be my intention to resolve these issues as quickly as possible … Importantly, when I proceed to the immigration debate, it will have an amendment process that is fair to all sides. But the first step in any of this is re-opening the government and preventing any further delay.”

Early Monday, before the vote, the Trump White House and Capitol Hill Republicans cranked up the pressure on Democrats to abandon their immediate demands for immigration measures and vote in support of the temporary spending bill.

“They shut down the government,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “The pressure is on them.”

President Trump tweeted that Democrats shut down the government to appease the “far left base” and are now “powerless” to change course.

“The Democrats are turning down services and security for citizens in favor of services and security for non-citizens. Not good!” he tweeted.

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The vote Monday was the GOP-controlled Senate’s second attempt to break the filibuster, after failing to get the required 60 votes Friday. The Friday night vote was 50-49.

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