- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Democratic leadership was threatening to scuttle a longer-term spending agreement in favor of another stopgap measure.

With a government shutdown looming if Congress does not act before the end of Dec. 20, the Kentucky Republican said his Democratic colleagues were responsible for throwing a last-minute wrench into the process.

“The story is the same as it’s been for months: partisan policy demands, poison pills, exactly the playbook that the Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader had explicitly promised months ago in writing they would not use to sabotage appropriations,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

“[E]ven in mid-December, they are still using those tactics to jeopardize all of our progress. It doesn’t have to end this way. I know earnest discussions are still under way in both chambers [to] fix this.”

Mr. McConnell urged his Democratic colleagues to let the committees of both chambers do their work and see what comes of it.

Democrats, however, have signaled that they are not confident they will reach an agreement with Republicans that will satisfy the president. Senior Democratic aides said the main obstacle to averting a shutdown is not Senate Republicans, but President Trump.

Earlier this week, congressional appropriators met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and planned to meet again on Thursday. Rep. Nita Lowey, House Appropriations Committee Chair, indicated the group would not complete its work by Thursday but hoped to resolve major issues responsible for the impasse.

At a press conference Thursday, however, Speaker Pelosi thanked Democratic appropriators and said her colleagues are concerned about sticking to the end of year schedule because of Senate Republicans’ pace.

Ultimately though, Mrs. Pelosi said she’s going to remain optimistic.

“We’re not going to have a shutdown of government,” the California Democrat said.

As the House proceeds with consideration of articles of impeachment against President Trump, it is growing increasingly likely that the full House may vote on impeachment before any vote to prevent a shutdown.

Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

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