- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 21, 2018

Congress opened its second day under the government shutdown Sunday with a prayer from the chaplain labeling the entire thing a miscalculation and pleading for sanity to prevail.

Barry Black, a former Navy admiral and longtime chaplain, warned Congress might “reap the whirlwind” from the shutdown if they don’t find a way to cooperate.

“Discontinue the blame game,” he urged them.

The partial shutdown hasn’t had a deep impact yet, with it taking effect over a weekend. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that it will hit Monday, when the federal workforce would normally return to work.

He laid blame for the shutdown squarely at the feet of Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, saying the New York Democrat made a “political miscalculation of gargantuan proportions” by leading a filibuster to block government funding until illegal immigrant “Dreamers” get legal status.

“This shutdown’s going to get a lot worse tomorrow,” Mr. McConnell said.

The House has passed a bill to fund the government through Feb. 16, and there’s majority support for the bill in the Senate — but Democrats have the numbers to filibuster.

President Trump earlier in the day suggested GOP leaders trigger the so-called “nuclear option” to change Senate rules and eliminate the filibuster.

Mr. McConnell, opening the Senate Sunday afternoon, responded to that call, signaling he doesn’t intend to go down that path and he supports the power of the filibuster. But he said Mr. Schumer goofed by using it in this case.

“I support that right,” he said. “The question is when you use it.”

Mr. Schumer said the GOP deserves blame, saying Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate as well as the White House and should be able to figure this out. But he also said Republicans need to compromise with him if they want to end the filibuster.

“It was their job to reach out to use and come up with a compromise. They have failed,” he said.

Mr. McConnell has said he would accept a compromise spending bill that keeps the government open through Feb. 8, but said there won’t be any talks on immigration as long as Democrats are filibustering and the government is shut down.

A vote on the Feb. 8 proposal could come later Sunday or early Monday morning.


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