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McConnell Blocks Senate Democrats’ Move To Reopen Government

Posted at 1:59 PM, Jan 10, 2019

(CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a move by Senate Democrats on Thursday to get the chamber to vote on spending bills to reopen the government.

The partial government shutdown is now on day 20.

In a back-and-forth on the Senate floor, Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, on Thursday called for the Senate to take up legislation advanced by House Democrats to reopen shuttered parts of the federal government and argued that parts of the federal government not related to the border wall should be re-opened immediately as negotiations continue over the border wall, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to the move, saying that “political stunts are not going to get us anywhere.”

McConnell has made clear that he won’t take up any legislation related to the shutdown in the Senate that President Donald Trump won’t sign. And the President has dug in in his refusal to sign legislation that does not meet his demand for roughly $5 billion for a border wall, which Democrats refuse to provide.

“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said on the floor. He added, “The political stunts are not going to get us anywhere.”

McConnell instead blamed Democrats for the impasse, saying that the shutdown has been “prolonged by my Democratic colleagues’ refusal to even come to the table.”

But the effort is a way for Senate Democrats to put pressure on Senate Republicans amid the ongoing government shutdown and highlight the legislation passed by the new House Democratic majority to reopen the government.

Schumer argued that Senate Republicans must take action even if the President remains entrenched in his position.

Prospects for any kind of a deal appear even dimmer after Trump declared on Wednesday that a meeting with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss the shutdown was “a total waste of time.

But the President still has a critical mass of congressional Republicans supporting him and McConnell has remained firm in saying he will only take up legislation to reopen government that the President backs.

McConnell walked into his office after leaving the Senate floor, where he objected to the Democratic request to re-open the government.

“I think the way out has been apparent for several weeks,” he told reporters. “It requires an agreement between a Democratic House, the Democrats in the Senate and the President.”