On Day 21 of shut­down, sen­a­tors va­cate DC

The Sacramento Bee - - News - BY LESLEY CLARK [email protected]­clatchydc.com

With the gov­ern­ment shut­down poised to break a record Sat­ur­day as the long­est in U.S. his­tory, the Se­nate will be home for an­other long week­end. Again.

With fed­eral work­ers miss­ing their first pay­checks of the year Fri­day, sen­a­tors were enjoying their fourth ex­tended week­end since sev­eral fed­eral agen­cies be­gan fur­lough­ing em­ploy­ees and clos­ing up shop.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, RKen­tucky, who has largely es­chewed his usual role as a key Se­nate ne­go­tia­tor and made it clear he won’t en­ter­tain leg­is­la­tion that doesn’t have Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ap­proval, al­lowed sen­a­tors to re­turn home early Thurs­day af­ter­noon. They’re due back Mon­day night.

As a re­sult sen­a­tors had a quick work week. They didn’t start un­til Tues­day night.

The week be­fore that, when New Year’s Day fell on a Tues­day? Gone Dec.

28, back Jan. 3.

And be­fore that, the week­end that be­gan Dec.

22, the day the par­tial shut­down started?

Gone that af­ter­noon and back, for about five min­utes, Dec. 28.

On Fri­day this week, the Se­nate of­fi­cially re­mained in ses­sion, but nei­ther McCon­nell nor Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, spoke on the Se­nate floor, as is their cus­tom.

McCon­nell left Wash­ing­ton for Ken­tucky, a spokesman for his of­fice said. Democrats as­sailed McCon­nell for shut­ter­ing the Se­nate and re­fus­ing to take up House spend­ing bills that would get the gov­ern­ment run­ning.

McCon­nell’s fel­low Repub­li­cans sug­gested the ma­jor­ity leader could be in­volved in find­ing a way out of the shut­down that’s closed nine Cab­i­net agen­cies and sev­eral smaller de­part­ments..

“He’s in all the meet­ings, he’s in all the con­ver­sa­tions,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ken­tucky. “But ul­ti­mately, the ne­go­ti­a­tions have to be be­tween Schumer and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

At least one se­na­tor was clearly happy with the Thurs­day de­ci­sion to al­low him to re­turn home.

Sen. Josh Haw­ley, RMis­souri, tweeted a pic­ture of him and his two sons: “Good to be home this morn­ing and see my lit­tle guys! They’re hop­ing for snow! Ev­ery­one drive safely to­day – lots of snow po­ten­tially com­ing to MO.”

Some on Twit­ter were not pleased.

“The fact that you’re in MO means you don’t care about the ~40,000 fed­eral work­ers liv­ing in MO, our Na­tional Parks, air­port ter­mi­nal clo­sures, lack of food safety in­spec­tions, etc. It’s un­eth­i­cal and im­moral. And no amount of snow is go­ing to bury that,” a per­son with the Twit­ter han­dle @char­broiled tweeted.

The Demo­cratic-led House did meet Fri­day, voted and then left for the week­end. Repub­li­cans taunted them for leav­ing.

“Democrats just packed up their bags and headed home,” the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence said in an email, blam­ing Democrats for re­fus­ing to give Trump any money for the wall that the pres­i­dent promised dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

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