Par­ties get shut­down shiv­ers

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Michael Collins and El­iza Collins

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.”

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