Federal Government Shuts Down Amid Partisan Disputes Over Immigration

“Now I want a big win for everyone..."

At midnight on Jan. 18, 2018, Congress and the President failed to come to a consensus on a spending bill for the new fiscal year resulting in a shutdown of the federal government. In a shutdown, federal agencies close, thousands of government employees are out of work, and many nonessential government services are delayed.

To pass a spending bill, the Senate needs a majority of 60 votes for the bill. With near unanimous opposition to the bill by Democrats and with five votes against from Republicans, the bill to continue government operations failed with 51 votes for and 49 against.

The reason for the shutdown was due mainly to the lengthy debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program formed under former President Obama that granted protection from deportation to “Dreamers,” those who came to the United States illegally as minors. President Donald Trump recently revoked the program sparking widespread arguments between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, raising the issue of morality versus security.

Both sides of the aisle were subsequently blamed for the shutdown. The official statement from the White House dubbed it the “Schumer Shutdown,” saying that Democrats put “politics above our national security.” Meanwhile, Democrats were unwilling to vote for a bill that didn’t include protections for Dreamers. Congress presented a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Sc.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D. Il.) at the last minute that would pave a road to citizenship for Dreamers. However, President Trump rejected this plan, confirming that a government shutdown would take place.

The shutdown lasted for three days until Jan. 22 when Democrats agreed to end the standoff in exchange for a pledge to enter talks into an immigration bill in the coming weeks. In addition to immigration talks, the bill to end the shutdown extended funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a sticking point for Democrats, for six more years. President Trump signed the bill on Monday, effectively ending the shutdown and reopening the government.

However, the bill is short-term only and only extends the government until Feb. 8 before a long-term deal can take place. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Trump have made statements leading Democrats to believe they support a DACA deal, a presumed turning point in the ongoing immigration talks. President Trump tweeted, “Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats, and DACA.”

Currently, there is no long-term deal in sight with the deadline of Feb. 8 looming near. Republican leaders are confidant, however, that a second shutdown will not take place.

 

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