Parties get shutdown shivers
WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fond of saying there’s nothing good about the second kick of a mule.
After the beating Republicans took during the 35-day government shutdown that ended last week, McConnell, R-Ky., slightly altered his folksy aphorism Tuesday to drive home the point that GOP lawmakers aren’t eager to go through that again.
“There certainly would be no education in a third kick of the mule,” McConnell said. “I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody, and I hope they will be avoided.”
Congressional Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing as they begin three weeks of negotiations over border security: They don’t want to see another government closure.
“No more shutdowns,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “President Trump touched a hot, hot stove, and hopefully, he won’t do it again.”
Polls show most Americans blame President Donald Trump and Republi- cans for the shutdown – the longest in U.S. history. But lawmakers from both parties are reeling from its impact.
The standoff was caused by a budget impasse triggered by Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Democrats argued that a wall would be costly and ineffective, and they refused to give him the money.
The shutdown ended Friday when the White House and congressional leaders struck a deal to reopen the government through Feb. 15. The agreement contained no new money for a border wall, but it did call for a bipartisan conference committee to spend the next three weeks negotiating ways to secure the southern border.
Trump warned that if the committee is unable to reach an agreement to fund his border wall, the government will shut down again Feb. 15 or he will declare a national emergency to get the money for the barrier.
A government shutdown is “a pox on all of our houses,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he hopes the standoff convinced Republicans that a shutdown should never be used as a negotiating tactic.
“Yes, we have a broken immigration system,” he said. “Yes, we need comprehensive immigration reform. Yes, we should fix it in a bipartisan way. But we can never have a mature conversation about these tough issues in the midst of a reckless shutdown.”