- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 21, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday that President Trump’s rotten deal making and inept leadership caused the “Trump shutdown,” as finger-pointing intensified on the second day the federal government was partially shuttered.

The New York Democrat also claimed this weekend that Americans were on his side, pointing to Twitter traffic that favors “Trump shutdown” 10-to-1 over “Schumer shutdown.”

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, wasn’t impressed.

“My favorite is still the ‘Schumer Shutdown.’ It’s got that nice little ring to it, doesn’t it?” he told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the blame squarely upon Mr. Schumer. He said the minority leader made “a political miscalculation of gargantuan proportions” when he led a filibuster Friday by Senate Democrats that killed a stopgap spending bill because it didn’t include amnesty for illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

“It doesn’t need to go on any longer. It could stop today,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said of the filibuster. “Let’s step back from the brink. Let’s stop victimizing the American people and get back to work on their behalf.”

The assignment of blame has become a key sticking point in resolving the standoff. Both sides insist that they wanted to make a deal, but the other refused.

Democrats still wanted the deal to include amnesty for Dreamers, illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. They said Republicans control all of government — the House, Senate and White House — and therefore are fully responsible for keeping the government open.

Republicans maintained that immigration issues were too complex to negotiate during a shutdown, and Senate Democrats chose to filibuster a non-controversial bill that would have stopped the shutdown.

The ability of the minority party to sink the spending bill prompted Mr. Trump to once again call for Senate Republicans to use the “nuclear option” rule change to eliminate filibusters.

“If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!” he tweeted.

Senate Republican leaders have resisted Mr. Trump’s call to go nuclear in the past because it would dramatically alter the nature of the upper chamber, making it resemble the more impetuous majority-dominated House and diminishing the role of the minority.

Mr. McConnell defended the filibuster rule.

“I support that right from an institutional point of view,” he said. “We all know that in the Senate, the minority has the power to filibuster. But the question is, when do you use it.”

Mr. Schumer passed the case that Mr. Trump botched a deal to stop the shutdown.

He said a deal was made when he sat down for lunch with Mr. Trump on Friday afternoon, just hours before government funding ran out. He said he offered Mr. Trump a “very generous offer” to fund the border wall in exchange for granting permanent amnesty to so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

“The president picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it. It wasn’t my number. It wasn’t the number in the bill here. He picked it,” said Mr. Schumer. “But only hours after he seemed very open, very eager about that generous, tentative agreement — it was only tentative, there were no handshakes — he backed away from the last, best chance to avoid a shutdown.”

Mr. Schumer’s office would not reveal the number that he said was agreed upon.

The White House rejected Mr. Schumer’s account of the meeting.

Sen. Schumer’s memory is hazy because his account of Friday’s meeting is false,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “And the president’s position is clear: we will not negotiate on the status of unlawful immigrants while Sen. Schumer and the Democrats hold the government for millions of Americans and our troops hostage.”

The White House says it’s open to a generous amnesty for Dreamers that goes beyond the 690,000 people currently protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation amnesty, but it wants concessions.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Mr. Trump can’t be responsible for Senate Democrats’ voting to shut down the government.

“They shut down the government with no end game in sight,” the Wisconsin Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “I frankly don’t think they felt we were going to pass our bill. And when we passed our bill, funding children’s health insurance, keeping the troops funded, preventing the medical device tax from kicking in a few days which worries everyone’s healthcare costs — they would not pass that bill. That has nothing to do with President Trump.”


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