Pressure goes on Senate to find shutdown solution
Twenty-four days into the longest government shutdown in US history and with the White House and House Democrats no closer to a deal, pressure is ramping up on Senate Republicans to craft an exit plan that will get federal employees back to work and pull their party out of a deepening political quagmire.
In a sign that Republicans are increasingly concerned that the standoff over President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall is hurting their party, Senator Lindsey Graham, R, suggested temporarily reopening the government while continuing negotiations.
If talks don’t bear fruit, Graham said, the President could consider following through on his threat to bypass Congress and build the wall along the USMexico border by declaring a national emergency.
“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug,” Graham said on Fox News.
“See if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off. See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers.”
The manoeuvering by a key Trump ally highlights the difficult balancing act Senate Republicans will probably face over the next two years, trapped between a mercurial GOP president and an emboldened new House Democratic majority.
Trump continued to point the finger at Democrats, who he said were “everywhere but Washington as people await their pay”.
At the same time, Democrats ramped up calls for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up House-passed legislation to fund the government, regardless of whether the President agrees.
So far, three Republican senators — Cory Gardner, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — have called for an immediate end to the shutdown even without the wall funds.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll said that more Americans — 53 per cent — blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown than congressional Democrats (29 per cent). Thirteen per cent blame both equally.