Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

Russian radio hosts once pranked Adam Schiff with promise of ‘naked Trump’ photos

February 7, 2018

By David K. Li
The New York Post

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Russian radio hosts pranked the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, saying they had compromising images of President Trump, according to a report Tuesday.

The Daily Mail posted audio of the prank pulled last year by Vladimir “Vovan” Kuznetsov and Alexey “Lexus” Stolyarov against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

The Atlantic reported the prank last month, but The Mail story went a step further with purported audio of the joke.

The caller identified himself as Andriy Parubiy, speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, when “Parubiy” was actually both Kuznetsov and Stolyarov.

The pranksters claimed Trump had an affair with Russian model and singer Olga Buzova in 2013.

“She got compromising materials on Trump after their short relations,” the pranksters told Schiff.

“OK, and what’s the nature (of the material)?” Schiff asked.

“Well, there were pictures of naked Trump,” said the pranksters, adding that Russian president Vladimir Putin was aware of the compromising material.

Schiff responded that “obviously we would welcome the chance to get copies.”

A rep for Schiff had earlier told The Atlantic that the call was reported to “appropriate law enforcement and security personnel” because “of our belief that it was probably bogus.”

The Russian pair has pulled similar stunts on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).


House GOP Plans Spending Vote to Fund Military

February 6, 2018

Bill meant to extend government funding and avert shutdown is unlikely to pass the Senate; Democrats press for an equal increase for domestic programs

Image result for Carlos Curbelo, photos

WASHINGTON—House GOP leaders on Tuesday are expected to bring up for a vote legislation that would fund the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year, but keep the rest of the government running only through March 23, setting up a showdown with the Senate.

With the government’s current funding set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Friday, House Republicans are preparing to approve a bill that stands little chance of passing the Senate.

But House GOP lawmakers said Monday night their strategy was the only way they could secure enough votes to pass another short-term spending bill now—and that they expect the bill to change later in the week.

“Everyone understands that this will probably end up being a ping-pong situation” where a bill is bounced between the House and Senate,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R., Fla.) said Monday night as he left the House GOP’s closed-doors meeting. “And we’ll see where the ball lands.”

The House bill would fund the government through March 23, boost spending for the Defense Department for the full fiscal year, which goes through September, and fund community health centers for two years, lawmakers said.

Adding the extra defense money helped win over conservative House Republicans, whose votes will be needed. Most House Democrats are expected to oppose the short-term spending bill until a fight over immigration has been resolved.

“We’re in good shape to be able to pass it with Republican-only votes,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Monday night.

Image result for mark meadows, photos

Rep. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.)

Senate Democrats support lifting military spending above limits established in the 2011 debt-limit fight, but they have pushed to secure an equal increase in spending for domestic programs in continuing negotiations over a two-year budget deal.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, N.Y.) said earlier Monday that Democrats wouldn’t support a stopgap spending bill that only provides long-term funding for the military.

Sending a bill to the Senate “that just funded defense and cut programs crucial to the middle class, would be barreling headfirst into a dead end,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor, warning that it could “jeopardize the positive discussions going on right now about the budget, immigration, disaster aid and more.”

Few lawmakers expect this week’s spending fight to culminate in a repeat of last month’s three-day partial government shutdown. But the week’s trajectory remains uncertain, largely because congressional leaders appear to be closing in on a long-term budget deal that has eluded them for months.

“Serious, bipartisan negotiations continue on long-term spending levels, along with other important issues,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor Monday. “I am optimistic these talks will bear fruit.”

If congressional leaders do reach an agreement this week to lift both military and domestic spending for two years, that could ease the concerns of many Republicans who want to provide more stable funding to the Defense Department.

And some Senate Democrats, many of whom had hoped to use their leverage on spending bills to secure an agreement on immigration, are starting to view the two issues as separate. As part of the agreement to reopen the government last month, Mr. McConnell agreed to bring an immigration bill to the Senate floor under a process that would be fair and neutral to both parties.

“I’m open to taking a look at a budget deal on its own,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) said Monday.

Lawmakers are negotiating in both chambers over how to address the fate of Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. at a young age. President Donald Trump in September ended the Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, but gave Congress until March 5 to pass a replacement.

It isn’t clear how many House Democrats would support a spending agreement if Congress hasn’t yet passed any legal protections for the Dreamers, which many have said must be done first.

And conservatives are likely to balk at a budget deal that would significantly raise federal spending levels, though Mr. Meadows said it would depend on the specifics.

“If you plus up the size of government substantially, it certainly loses some conservative support,” he said.

If a two-year budget agreement isn’t reached this week, the Senate could vote to strip out the additional defense funding and return the bill back to the House.

The chamber is expected to adjourn for the House Democrats’ annual policy retreat on Wednesday afternoon, but lawmakers said they would expect to remain in town or return to Washington should they need to vote again on a modified spending bill to avoid another shutdown.

Write to Kristina Peterson at

Senate Democrats’ Vote to End Shutdown Infuriates Some on the Left

January 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — The decision by Senate Democrats to end the government shutdown on Monday in exchange for a promised immigration vote enraged liberals, who accused the lawmakers of betrayal and threatened to mount primaries against some of the Democrats who voted yes.

Regardless of what happens in the Senate, progressive and immigrant advocacy groups said House Republican leaders will never take up a bill that would offer legal status to young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children without excruciating concessions on other immigration issues. They accused Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and moderate Democratic senators of capitulating to protect senators up for re-election in November in Republican-leaning states.

“They blinked because they’ll always put the party and the success of the party first,” said Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois, one of the leading Democratic advocates for immigrants, complaining that Hispanics got short shrift. “It’s the one word they know in Spanish: mañana.”

The hasty retreat by 33 Senate Democrats was particularly humiliating in the immediate aftermath of the anniversary of the Women’s March, which saw thousands of activists reconvene in cities across the country to protest against President Trump and congressional Republicans. Liberal groups such as began urging members to sign up on Monday for rallies aimed at pressuring Republicans to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

By noon, their own ostensible allies in Congress had buckled.

“The grass-roots are rightly furious with a slew of elected Democrats,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of “In the Obama years, Republicans learned to be more afraid of primary challenges than general elections. But Democrats are still operating as though the Tea Party is more powerful than The Resistance.”

The anger on the left was reminiscent of conservative unrest that fueled primary race challenges against sitting Republican senators accused of appeasing an opposition president, Barack Obama, and his congressional allies.

Mr. Schumer, determined to keep the fissures in his party coalition muted, used a meeting of Senate Democrats before the vote to urge the liberals in his caucus not to criticize those voting to reopen the government, according to one senator who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

And for the most part, the liberal senators who opposed the agreement held their fire. Democrats have largely avoided the internal insurrections that upended Republicans over the past decade. Mr. Schumer is not a figure of derision on the left as Mr. McConnell is on the right.

Read the rest:

Bipartisan, Centrist Senators Outflanked Party Leadership to End Shutdown

January 23, 2018

Bipartisan group grew frustrated by party leaders’ standoff over immigration; some lawmakers and White House officials were surprised fight fell to Senate and not House

Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government.
Senators gathered to celebrate their bipartisan effort outside the chamber in Washington on Monday, following a procedural vote aimed at reopening the government. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—The 2018 government shutdown may go down as one of the shortest, and much of the credit for that is going to a bipartisan group of senators who wrested control from their own leadership.

Inside the Capitol, Democrats attributed their decision to allow the government to reopen to a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to bring an immigration measure to the Senate floor if an agreement can’t be reached before Feb. 9. Outside the Capitol, progressive activists attributed the reversal to the lack of a plan for how to stand firm.

“Democrats went into battle and then buckled and weren’t ready for it,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “There should have been an outside game that was planned.”

How Senate Democrats got to the point of charging forward on Friday night and then pulling back on Monday morning is the story of a Republican party more organized than the Democratic insurgents and centrists in both parties who challenged the partisan rhetoric of both Mr. McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)., forging a path forward during meetings where one senator nearly broke a glass elephant with a “talking stick.”

A shutdown could be repeated in several weeks if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on a sweeping range of immigration policies, including protecting those children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.

This article is based on dozens of interviews with lawmakers, administration officials and advocates.

That the Senate would become the focal point of the shutdown surprised some of Washington’s top officials, who saw greater risks in the House.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump dialed into a meeting of the Freedom Caucus, a group of staunch House conservatives, and warned: “We’re one party and we control the House, Senate and White House,” said one senior administration official with knowledge of the call. “Shutting down the government is not productive to us gaining leverage on the issues we care about.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the call “sent a very clear message” and added: “That was the best work he did.” The House passed a short-term extension of government funding later that day.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) sided with the liberal wing of his caucus that was skeptical that Republicans would take up immigration legislation. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Some Senate Democrats, many of whom expected the spending bill would fizzle in the House, weren’t fully prepared for the shutdown fight now upon them.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) was pushing a three-week spending deal—shorter than the measure that passed the House—and a commitment by Mr. McConnell to take up immigration legislation. Centrist Democrats, crowded around Mr. Schumer’s desk on the chamber floor, wanted to back the Graham fix.

Mr. Schumer sided with the liberal wing of his caucus, saying there was no guarantee Mr. McConnell would allow the legislation to pass, people familiar with the matter said. The Democratic caucus was also still steaming over Mr. Trump’s controversial remarks about African immigrants.

On the other side of town, Mr. Trump was smarting over Mr. Schumer’s characterization of a lunch in which they had discussed immigration issues, including funding for a border wall.

Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning.
Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), above, on Monday morning. PHOTO: PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It took the president by surprise that Schumer would mischaracterize the meeting that badly that quickly,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “The president decided: That’s the end of those negotiations…That’s when we first realized that we might go to a shutdown.” Mr. Schumer has stood by his recollections of the meeting.

Later that evening, Mr. Mulvaney spoke with the president, who said for the first time he thought a shutdown was likely. “OK, what’s going to happen?” Mr. Trump asked. He told him: “Make sure we keep open as much of the government as we can.”

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, all but five Democrats lined up behind their leader and blocked the spending bill on a procedural measure that needed 60 votes. The government officially shutdown at 12:01 a.m.—before the final vote, 50-49, was gaveled to a close.

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump largely receded from public view, save for a few tweets touting the nation’s economic gains and criticizing Democrats for their role in the dispute that the White House said was “holding our troops hostage and our border agents hostage.” His re-election campaign ran ads that claimed Democrats were “complicit” in murder perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally.

Democrats, meanwhile, found their offices inundated with phone calls.

“I called and left messages at their offices,” Gregg James, the vice president of a Minnesota branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, said of his efforts to reach Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Tina Smith (D., Minn.) He said he understood their concerns about immigration but that “we never feel shutting down the government is the right thing to do.”

Senate Republicans and Democrats alike were also growing frustrated with their leadership. A group of nearly two dozen members began meeting in the offices of Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) to hash out a solution.

“It is a pretty poor excuse to sit here and say: We can’t deal with President Trump,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), a member of the group, said on the Senate floor. “We don’t have to deal with President Trump. We are the U.S. Senate. We can make our own decisions.”

The Collins-led sessions began to grow. At one meeting, the senators used a Native American “talking stick” as a way of designating which member would speak at any given moment.

A gift to Ms. Collins from Sen Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), its use wasn’t without drama, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Alexander at one point nearly broke a glass elephant with the talking stick during a dispute with Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) The senators eventually switched to using a basketball, tossing it to the next person due to speak. And Mr. Alexander apologized to Mr. Warner.

On Monday morning, the bipartisan group gathered with muffins, bagels and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. “We had so many people in the office that we were running out of chairs,” Ms. Collins said.

One issue that helped bond the group was the frustration vented toward their own leaders, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer.

“I don’t believe that either leader on either side should have the powers that they have,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), said Monday, complaining that it was too easy for leaders to force their conferences to block deals. “We weren’t going to be beaten into submission.”

Ms. Collins met privately with Mr. McConnell on Monday morning and urged him to make a stronger statement about his commitment to moving the immigration bill. “So that’s what happened, really,” Ms. Collins said.

Midday Monday, 28 Democrats who had initially voted to block government funding changed their positions and cleared the way for passage of the spending bill.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at, Rebecca Ballhaus at and Byron Tau at

US federal workers to return after Congress ends 3-day government shutdown

January 23, 2018

Above, a notice alerts visitors that the National Archives building in Washington DC is closed due to a government shutdown. (AFP)
WASHINGTON: US federal workers prepared to return to work Tuesday after Congress ended a three-day government shutdown, with President Donald Trump claiming victory in his standoff with Democrats.
The House voted 266 to 150 to extend federal funding for another three weeks, hours after Senate Democrats dropped their opposition to the plan after winning Republican assurances of a vote on immigration in the coming weeks.
Trump signed the measure into law Monday night and government operations were essentially to return to normal on Tuesday.
“I know there’s great relief that this episode is coming to an end,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told colleagues. “But this is not a moment to pat ourselves on the back. Not even close.”
The stalemate consumed Washington for the better part of a week, as lawmakers and the White House feuded over immigration policy and the nation’s two main political parties exchanged bitter barbs before finally reaching a deal.
The shutdown began at midnight Friday and thus affected only one regular workday — Monday — but it made both parties look bad. If it had continued, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would have been furloughed.
Democrats decided to end the shutdown after making progress with ruling Republicans toward securing the fate of hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” brought to America as children, many of them illegally. They had been protected from deportation under an Obama-era program known as DACA, which Trumps wants to end.
With Democratic support, a bill keeping the government funded until February 8 easily passed the Senate, where different versions of the funding had languished for days.
Word of the compromise deal struck in Washington sent US stocks surging to new highs.
Earlier, the White House appeared in no mood for bipartisanship or magnanimity after a shutdown that overshadowed Trump’s first anniversary in office.
Trump moved to undercut Democrats, saying he would only accept a comprehensive immigration reform — one that notably addresses his demands for a border wall with Mexico as well as the fate of the “Dreamers.”
“We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country,” he said in a statement.
And in a tweet late Monday, he again cried victory over the Democrats.
“Big win for Republicans as Democrats cave on Shutdown,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump added: “Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats and DACA, but especially for our Great Military and Border Security. Should be able to get there. See you at the negotiating table!“
In a sign of the poisoned politics of Washington, when top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer announced his party would vote with Republicans to end the shutdown he also pilloried Trump.
“The White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines,” Schumer said.
Trump spent the weekend stewing at the White House when he had planned to be among friends and family at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida for his anniversary bash.
And with the fundamental row on immigration and funding of Trump’s border wall unresolved, Republicans and Democrats may very well find themselves back in a similar stalemate come February 9.
Schumer told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he expected Republicans to make good on a pledge to address Democrats’ concerns over the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA) program. This shields immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation but expires on March 5.
There are an estimated 700,000 “Dreamers” whose fates are up in the air.
“If he does not, of course, and I expect he will, he will have breached the trust of not only the Democratic senators but members of his own party as well,” Schumer said.
Trump has staked his political fortunes on taking a hard line on immigrants, painting them as criminals and scroungers.
Senator Tim Kaine summed up the view of the more optimistic Democrats: “We got a commitment that I feel very, very good about.”
But if no progress is made on an immigration bill, Molly Reynolds of the Brookings Institution warned, “Democrats still have the ability to potentially force another shutdown over the issue.”
The House is under no obligation to pass any Senate bill generated as a result of McConnell’s pledge to cooperate with Democrats — although Speaker Ryan did say his chamber needs to “move forward in good faith” on DACA and immigration.
Notably, many of the Senate Democrats who voted against the funding agreement included a litany of potential 2020 presidential candidates, including Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.
Ahead of the deal, Trump had goaded Democrats from the sidelines, accusing them of shutting down the government to win concessions on immigration, in service of “their far left base.”
There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. During the last one, in October 2013, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.
Essential federal services and the military were operational on Monday.


Senate to vote Monday on plan to reopen government — Schumer: we have yet to reach an agreement

January 22, 2018

Politico Staff


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Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) talk to reporters as they exit a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday. Drew Angerer – Getty Images

Party leaders and rank-and-file senators spent all day Sunday haggling over a deal to reopen the government. But Washington’s painful shutdown will nonetheless drag into Day Three.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the chamber would vote on a plan at noon Monday to fund the government through Feb. 8. In an attempted concession to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, McConnell said he would take up legislation to protect some young immigrants from deportation if a deal to address their status is not reached by the time funding expires in early February.

But Democrats were not ready to call it a deal, even as McConnell implored the Senate to vote Sunday night to reopen the government. “The shutdown should stop today,” he said.

Schumer said further negotiations were needed and spurned McConnell’s request, pushing a vote until Monday, when hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.

“Talks will continue, but we have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides,” Schumer said.

The vote Monday is expected to fail absent further progress between the two party leaders before then.

Senate Republicans will have a conference meeting at 11 a.m. Monday to discuss the state of play, aides said.

The late-night exchange capped a furious round of negotiations Sunday between Schumer and McConnell, as well as a group of deal-making senators desperate to reopen the shuttered government. Senators from both parties took a proposal to the party leaders after the centrists met for 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Their proposal would reopen the government through Feb. 8 and have McConnell commit on the Senate floor to holding an immigration vote before that date — a commitment that McConnell approached but did not definitively agree to, in part because Republicans worry they could not complete an immigration debate before the next funding deadline.

Keeping the shutdown going given McConnell’s stated goal of an immigration vote would be “counterproductive,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as the Senate adjourned for the night. As for Democrats’ push for a more firm immigration commitment from the GOP leader, Graham suggested McConnell’s Sunday night statement would have to suffice: “I assume if we get a deal, it will be more formal.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who along with Graham is meeting with roughly 20 senators in both parties, said he hoped the group would meet again.

After not speaking on Saturday, McConnell and Schumer met privately for more than 30 minutes on Sunday. Schumer, however, did not talk to the president, an aide said.

Flake said the Senate needs to move independently of the White House at this point to resolve the confrontation that’s produced the first shutdown in more than four years.

“The important thing is breaking with the White House on this and not relying on the White House to give its approval,” Flake said.

Despite his public thaw after two days of lashing Democrats, it remains to be seen whether McConnell can provide enough reassurance to Democrats to win their votes. Some Democrats said they need to know the House would take action on an immigration bill, too.

“We have to have in our own mind some way to ensure that the House feels a need to bring up the issue as well,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The centrists are eager to end the brinkmanship that has erupted at the one-year mark of Donald Trump’s presidency. Democrats insist that any funding legislation extend Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, while Republicans have said they won’t negotiate on immigration until the government reopens.

The group of roughly 20 moderates includes Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Flake, Graham, Mark Warner (D-Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Some liberals are still wary. They fear that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) could repeat the exercise of 2013, when the Senate passed an immigration bill and the House didn’t take it up.

“It depends on whether it’s part of a must-pass bill. That is my strong preference. The goal is to have the [DREAM] Act passed,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in an interview. “I have no confidence, zero, in Paul Ryan bringing that bill to the floor.”

Republican leaders are also skeptical. They believe committing to an immigration vote would just throw Democrats a lifeline and prefer to negotiate on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program only after the government reopens.

“Does that mean if we have an agreement by [Feb.] 15 that that’s not good enough?” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said of the plan to hold an immigration vote by Feb. 8. “I just think people are nervous because they shut down the government and are looking for face-saving.”

Still, McConnell listened to the presentation by a group of GOP senators to allow such a vote by Feb. 8. He thanked those Republicans on the floor Sunday evening.

So far, House Republican leaders have rejected the idea of committing to holding an immigration vote on the House floor and are refusing to negotiate on anything beyond a three-week continuing resolution. Ryan said Sunday the House will accept a short-term bill through Feb. 8 but will commit only to an immigration bill “that the president supports to fix this problem.”

Lawmakers had hoped to reach a deal before Monday, when federal employees would normally return to work, to lessen the impact of the shutdown.

Though negotiations in the Senate gained some traction, both parties continued to execute their public relations strategies. Democrats blasted Trump, blaming him for walking away from an immigration deal with Schumer on Friday that they say could have prevented the shutdown.

“How can you negotiate with the president under those circumstances where he agrees face-to-face to move forward with a certain path and then within two hours calls back and pulls the plug?” Durbin said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Schumer offered Trump support for the border wall in exchange for a deal to protect the nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. But since then, Republicans and Democrats have publicly sparred over whether Schumer was offering full funding for the wall or not.

Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of taking “hostages” in order to strong-arm the GOP into an immigration deal that has eluded Congress for years.

“This is the Democrats trying to hold our military hostage for an issue that has been with us for decades,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said on ABC. “I think we need to resolve it — the president wants to resolve it — but you don’t do that in the middle of a shutdown.”

But even Republicans seemed uncomfortable defending a Trump campaign ad saying Democratic leaders would be “complicit” in murders committed by undocumented immigrants during the shutdown. Republican leaders know they will need Democratic cooperation to break the shutdown logjam.

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily productive,” Ryan said of the Trump ad.

So far, Trump has not called for a meeting with the “Big Four” congressional leaders — McConnell, Schumer, Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — and Republicans on the Sunday news shows gave no indication he would do so. But White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said Trump has been in touch with GOP leaders throughout the weekend.

“The president has been involved,” Short said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Yesterday he was speaking to Leader McConnell, Leader Ryan. He also spoke to Kevin McCarthy.”

John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade contributed to this report.


Vote to end government shutdown scheduled for noon Monday

January 22, 2018
The washington Post
January 21 at 9:37 PM
Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., explains to reporters how his negotiations with President Donald Trump broke down yesterday as quarreling politicians in Washington eventually failed to keep their government in business, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
The government shutdown headed into its third day after frantic efforts Sunday by a bipartisan group of moderate senators failed to produce a compromise on immigration and spending.“We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, adding that talks would continue ahead of a procedural vote scheduled for noon Monday.The effects of the shutdown over the weekend were relatively limited — halting trash pickup on National Park Service property, canceling military reservists’ drill plans, and switching off some government employees’ cellphones.

But the shutdown continuing into Monday, the start of the workweek, means that hundreds of thousands of workers will stay home and key federal agencies will be affected. Passport and visa applications will go unprocessed, federal contractors will see payments delayed, and the Internal Revenue Service will slow its preparations for the coming tax season.

The impasse continues as it was unclear whether the public would blame the Republicans, who control the White House and Congress, or Democrats taking a stand on immigration while shuttering government agencies.

Lawmakers from both parties and White House officials on Jan. 21 laid out their positions in the negotiations to reopen the government.

The moderates’ proposal — to link a three-week extension of government funding to the consideration of an immigration bill in the Senate — prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to announce that he would be willing to start debating immigration legislation if an agreement was not otherwise reached by early February.

“Let’s step back from the brink,” he said. “Let’s stop victimizing the American people and get back to work on their behalf.”

But the pledge came with caveats that led senior Democratic aides to question whether it would ultimately be workable. Mindful of the failure of a sweeping immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 but languished in the House, Democrats want stronger assurances that the legislation they are demanding to protect young undocumented immigrants will ultimately become law.

Whether Republicans can find compromise on immigration remained as uncertain as ever Sunday, with no clear backing from House Republican leaders or President Trump, who showed no sign of retreating from his hard line on immigration.

Still, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said he was “optimistic” the Senate would vote tomorrow to break the impasse. Schumer, he said, “wants to just give everybody a chance to chew on it and sort of understand it, and so that’s why he didn’t want to have the vote tonight.”

Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer, said the Democrats “made some reasonable offers to Senator McConnell and he hasn’t accepted them yet. The caucus is waiting for him to move some in our direction.”

The bipartisan group scrambled for a compromise, but the decision ultimately belonged to McConnell and Schumer.

“We’re trying to be helpful in showing them that there is a path forward,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who hosted more than a dozen fellow moderates in her office for an early afternoon meeting.

Sunday began with more of the partisan posturing that marked much of the previous week, delivered on the morning news programs, on the House and Senate floors, and in a presidential tweet.

Trump wrote that if the “stalemate continues,” then Republicans should use the “Nuclear Option” to rewrite Senate rules and try to pass a long-term spending bill with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes needed to pass most legislation — a notion Trump has previously floated to McConnell’s repeated dismissal.

The president otherwise remained uncharacteristically quiet, heeding the advice of senior advisers who argued that he has the upper hand over Schumer and the Democrats and that they would soon be forced to capitulate.

On the Senate floor, Schumer showed no signs of caving and kept pressure on Republicans.

“Not only do they not consult us, but they can’t even get on the same page with their own president,” he said. “The congressional leaders tell me to negotiate with President Trump; President Trump tells me to figure it out with the congressional leaders. This political Catch-22, never seen before, has driven our government to dysfunction.”

As the clock ticked toward a scheduled 1 a.m. Monday vote — set by McConnell in part because of arcane Senate rules but later postponed — the moderates made the most visible progress toward a deal. Among the participants in the Collins meeting were a number of Democrats who are seeking reelection in states Trump won in 2016 — five of whom voted Friday against sparking the shutdown in the first place.

“There are more than just moderate Democrats or conservative Democrats — a majority of Democrats want it to end,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.).

All of that weighed on lawmakers who milled around the Capitol, many in flannel shirts, sweater vests and other casual garb.

“If it doesn’t happen tonight, it’s going to get a lot harder tomorrow,” said a windbreaker-and-baseball-cap clad Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has pressed for action on immigration legislation and met with the moderates’ group Sunday.

No firm proposal emerged from the meeting, but senators discussed a broad outline that could unlock a deal: modify the temporary spending bill now under consideration in the Senate to expire on Feb. 8, and then find some way to guarantee that immigration legislation moves forward in the interim.

The White House has said it supports the plan for funding through Feb. 8 but has been wary of making concessions on immigration. While legislation protecting DACA recipients could probably move through the Senate with Democrats and a handful of Republicans supporting it, Trump has rejected proposals along those lines and House GOP leaders are under fierce pressure not to bring up any bill that a majority of Republicans would reject.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short declined to provide assurances that the president would guarantee a vote on an immigration bill in exchange for a short-term spending deal. “We want to have the right resolution,” he said.

Other Republicans also saw little advantage in making any concessions to advance legislation that would provide protections for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children, 690,000 of whom face potential deportation after Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

In a brief closed-door meeting of House Republicans, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reassured lawmakers that there would be no negotiations on the issue as long as the government remained shuttered, affirming the White House position.

Cornyn told reporters that the deadline for action to address DACA remained March 5, when the last of the program’s participants will see their protected status expire.

“We’re more than happy to have a vote on it well before the deadline. We’ve committed to that,” Cornyn said. “But turning the agenda over to Democrats who just shut down the government makes no sense to me. It just seems like it encourages bad behavior.”

While there have been talks since early last year about trading DACA protections for more border security funding, as many Republicans want, negotiations have failed to produce a deal.

Democrats said they made a significant concession over the weekend, agreeing to put major funding behind Trump’s promised border wall, something that has been anathema to liberals since the 2016 presidential election.

Schumer on Sunday said that in a Friday meeting, Trump “picked a number for the wall, and I accepted it.”

“It would be hard to imagine a much more reasonable compromise,” he added. “All along, the president saying, ‘Well, I’ll do DACA, dreamers, in return for the wall.’ He’s got it. He can’t take yes for an answer. That’s why we’re here.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), one of the most outspoken Democratic advocates for immigrant rights, also said in a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that he would agree to the funding.

“I think the wall is a monumental waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “Having said that . . . if that’s what the hostage takers [demand for] the dreamers, if that’s their ransom call, I say pay it.”

But the concession was rejected on two fronts. Doubts remained that the Democratic rank and file would agree to wall funding — even with the blessing of Schumer and Gutiérrez. Asked about a deal that could deliver Trump as much as $20 billion for the border wall, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scoffed, “Oh, come on.”

“None of us is at a table where they’re talking about $20 billion,” she said. “Should there be fencing? Should there be technology? Should they mow the grass so that people can’t hide in it? Should there be some bricks and mortar someplace? Let’s see what works.”

And Republicans themselves scoffed at Schumer’s claim that he offered Trump precisely what was demanded. The Democratic offer, they said, fell short of the full, immediate funding the president sought and instead involved yearly installments of funding that could be subject to future shutdown threats.

Moreover, Republicans have demanded concessions on other aspects of the immigration system, including an end to rules authorizing permanent legal immigrants to sponsor family members for legal status and an end to a “diversity visa” program that distributes visas based on a lottery system.

The wall is “one of the three legs of this three-legged stool,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a key House conservative. “I’m glad to hear that there is some movement there, but there’s a couple of other legs of that stool that have to be put forth.”

The battle lines over immigration have become especially firm as spending talks falter. Republican leaders have cast the shutdown as the product of Democrats’ prioritization of undocumented immigrants over American citizens.

But a debate has opened up in the party about how far to push that argument. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) questioned an online ad from Trump’s campaign that said the president’s immigration proposals are “right” and “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily productive,” Ryan said on CBS.

Most senators remained cautious about the developments, adding quickly after each burst of optimism that any vote late Sunday or early Monday could easily fall apart and that the moderate group was sparking discussion but was hardly in control.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), one of the five Democrats who crossed over on Friday, said he and other Democrats met with Schumer on Sunday morning.

“The pitch is we need to do what’s right for the country and he does, too. He feels the same way, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Donnelly, who faces a tough reelection fight in a state Trump won.

Paul Kane, Ed O’Keefe, Jacob Bogage, Cindy Boren, Jenna Johnson, Karoun Demirjian, Elise Viebeck and Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.


The Screams, the Senate, the Shutdown

Political discourse in the Age of Trump.


WASHINGTON—The last thing I did in D.C. was wander down the echoing hallways from the Senate chamber to the place where the members of the House of Representatives do their business. This is an interesting trip. It’s like going from the reading room in the Library Of Congress to the Race and Sports Book at Caesar’s Palace. I got there just in time to hear various solons screaming at each other about a poster. And when I say screaming, I mean screaming. It sounded like someone had missed a field goal with the spread on the line in a five-team parlay.

Via The Hill:

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) tried to speak on the House floor next to a red poster featuring an old quote from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2013 stating that a shutdown is the “politics of idiocy, of confrontation, of paralysis.” But Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) interrupted, arguing that the poster is “disparaging to a member of the Senate.” The presiding officer, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), then inspected the poster and ruled that it abided by House rules. Perlmutter then tried to appeal the ruling, demanding a roll call vote. The House voted 224-173 to uphold Womack’s ruling, with two Democrats voting “present.” Six Democrats voted with Republicans to support the ruling that the poster was in order. Once the vote finished, Byrne tried to resume his speech pinning blame on Senate Democrats for the shutdown. But House Democrats kept interrupting him.

This is the bare bones of what happened. This was a group of alleged lawmakers constructing their own imaginary parliamentary octagon. There was shouting and bloviating, cheering and booing and Hear-Hear-ing, and it didn’t stop with the fight over the poster. It went on for most of the late afternoon and, at the very least, it was by-god entertaining. That’s because it wasn’t anything else.

These were one-minute speeches in which House members told each other and the dozens of their fellow humans who tune into C-SPAN on weekends who was to blame for the fact that the federal government was closed. But the truth is, the House can’t do anything until the Senate sends it something to vote on, and the Senate seems disinclined to do that at the moment, so the United States House of Representatives is left to stew in its own juice, and no human institution ever devised is happier stewing in its own juice than the United States House Of Representatives. They were doing nothing but they were doing it loud. It was like watching a metal band made of eunuchs, and a truly motley crew it is.


Watching this unfold revealed an aspect of the prion disease that has afflicted the Republican Party ever since Ronald Reagan first fed it the monkeybrains in the 1980s. Right now, the Republicans in Congress are staking their case on particularly unpopular positions. Both the DACA beneficiaries and the CHIP program are enormously popular and, needless to say, so are the members of the military, whom the Republicans have been using as human shields to the point at which Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, who lost both legs in Iraq, decided that this was something up with which she would put no longer, and she rolled out the Enola Gay.

From Business Insider:

“I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft-dodger. And I have a message for cadet bone spurs: If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops and millions of innocent civilians in danger.”

In most political contexts, when your policies become unpopular, you change the policies. However, in the context of the prion disease, as the Republican policies became unpopular, the more they work to discredit, obviate, or destroy the vehicles by which that unpopularity can find voice. This is not the way a credible democratic republic survives. But this is the only political instinct to which the congressional Republican majorities respond. The prion disease has robbed the party of the options that might have been presented by the higher functions that the prion disease has destroyed. The latest symptomatic manifestation is the out-and-out fascist tone of the latest web ad produced by the administration*. From Reuters:

The Trump campaign released the ad, titled “Complicit,” on the anniversary of the Republican president’s inauguration. It focuses on an undocumented immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, charged in the 2014 killings of two police officers in Sacramento, California. The man’s lawyers had questioned his sanity but a judge found him mentally competent to stand trial, according to a report last week in the Sacramento Bee. “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants,” the ad says.

This thing makes the Willie Horton ad from 1988 look like Live From Lincoln Center. It is the equivalent of all those one-minute speeches from the House—unmoored from the facts, sailing aloft on hot rage and molten ignorance, and that is the state of play as the first business day of the shutdown comes along. There is madness abroad in the land. There are those who can coin it into advantage, which makes it effective, but no less mad.

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See also:

Schumer’s moment: Shutdown puts spotlight on Dem leader

U.S. Senators Try To Make a Deal To Re-Open The U.S. Government

January 21, 2018

WASHINGTON: The top senator from US President Donald Trump’s party urged lawmakers to “step back from the brink” as they gathered Sunday for a crunch vote to keep the government shutdown from stretching into the coming work week.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are set to stay home without pay as of Monday morning following the dramatic collapse Friday night of talks to agree on an urgent funding measure.

The shutdown cast a huge shadow over the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration as president and highlighted the deep divisions between Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that the shutdown would “get a lot worse” if federal workers have to stay home without pay.

“Today would be a good day to end it,” McConnell said from the Senate floor during a rare Sunday session aimed at hashing out a deal ahead of a vote he said would take place at 1:00 am (0600 GMT) Monday, unless progress is made sooner.

Lawmakers have traded bitter recriminations for the failure to pass a stop-gap funding measure, and McConnell once again sought to pin the blame on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Trump early Sunday encouraged the Senate’s Republican leaders to invoke the “nuclear option” — a procedural maneuver to change the chamber’s rules to allow passage of a budget by a simple majority of 51 votes to end the shutdown.

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

But Senate leaders have been wary of such a move in the past, as it could come back to haunt them the next time the other party holds a majority.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday accused some Democrats of wanting to “deny the president sort of the victory lap of the anniversary of his inauguration” — echoing a complaint Trump made on Twitter the day before.

“There’s other Democrats who want to see the president give the State of the Union during a shutdown,” Mulvaney said on Fox, referring to the nationally televised address Trump is to deliver on January 30.
At the heart of the dispute is the thorny issue of undocumented immigration.

Democrats have accused Republicans of poisoning chances of a deal and pandering to Trump’s populist base by refusing to back a program that protects an estimated 700,000 “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who arrived as children — from deportation.

Schumer said he and Democrats were willing to compromise, but Trump “can’t take yes for an answer — that’s why we’re here.”

“I’m willing to seal the deal, to sit and work right now with the president or anyone he designates — let’s get it done,” Schumer said.

Trump has said Democrats are “far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border.”

Essential federal services and military activity are continuing, but even active-duty troops will not be paid until a deal is reached to reopen the US government.

There have been four government shutdowns since 1990. In the last one, in 2013, more than 800,000 government workers were put on temporary leave.

“We’re just in a holding pattern. We just have to wait and see. It’s scary,” Noelle Joll, a 50-year-old furloughed US government employee, told AFP in Washington.

A deal had appeared likely on Friday afternoon, when Trump — who has touted himself as a master negotiator — seemed to be close to an agreement with Schumer on protecting Dreamers.

But no such compromise was in the language that reached Congress for a stop-gap motion to keep the government open for four more weeks while a final arrangement is discussed. And Republicans failed to win enough Democratic support in the Senate to bring it to a vote.

Republicans have a tenuous one-seat majority in the Senate, and on Friday needed to lure some Democrats to their side to get a 60-vote supermajority to bring the motion forward. They fell 10 votes short.

The measure brought to Congress would have extended federal funding until February 16 and reauthorized for six years a health insurance program for poor children — a long-time Democratic objective.

But it left out any action on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, that affects Dreamers.

White House officials insisted there was no urgency to fix DACA, which expires March 5.

Highlighting the deep political polarization, crowds estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands took to the streets of major US cities including Los Angeles, New York and Washington over the weekend to march against the president and his policies and express support for women’s rights.

Protesters hoisted placards with messages including “Fight like a girl,” “A woman’s place is in the White House” and “Elect a clown, expect a circus.”


Everything You Need to Know About the U.S. Shutdown

January 20, 2018


President Donald Trump is finally getting to preside over the government shutdown he’s hinted for months he might want.

A year to the day after Trump took office, the U.S. government officially entered a partial shutdown early today as Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans blocked a funding bill amid an impasse over immigration.

The White House and federal agencies spent yesterday mapping out the closure, with a goal of as little disruption as possible. Mail will be delivered; airport control towers will be staffed; and the Interior Department hopes to keep national parks open. Critical national security functions continue.

Trump and his aides were typically defiant, with his press secretary calling Democrats “obstructionist losers, not legislators” and saying there’d be no immigration negotiations until the government reopens.

Having stumbled into a shutdown both parties tried to avoid, lawmakers seem eager to keep it brief. For Trump, the stakes are particularly high. An extended closure could blunt the momentum of his December tax victory, put the U.S. on the backfoot in its dealings with foreign adversaries and muddy the message of his first State of the Union address in nine days.

Shutdown Headlines

Blame game | Republicans are calling it the “Schumer Shutdown,” but at least one early poll suggests nearly half of Americans think Trump and his party — not Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer — are responsible. Republicans, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress, have a reason to try and deflect. Voters largely blamed them for the last shutdown four years ago on Barack Obama’s watch, even though they only had a House majority at the time.

Open vs. closed | In ways large and small, this shutdown will touch almost every aspect of American life — from visitors to national parks being unable to use the full-service restrooms to the Internal Revenue Service halting audits. While military personnel are expected to report for duty, neither they nor families of those killed in the line of duty will get paid. Defense systems and weapons maintenance may also be suspended. Vice President Mike Pence, en route to the Middle East, urged military members heading to Kuwait to stay focused, saying politicians in Washington would “get this thing figured out.”

Market chilling effect? | Asian trading opens tomorrow evening Washington time and will offer a first glimpse of how disruptive the stalemate will be. U.S. stocks yesterday shrugged off the drama, rising to all-time highs following a report regulators are close to further easing banking rules. Trump routinely takes credit for stock market gains.

What’s next | The House and Senate are both scheduled to be in session today, and Trump has scrapped plans to attend a fundraising gala at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to remain in Washington as negotiators work to find a solution. Check Bloomberg Politics and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout the weekend.

And finally … The last shutdown, in October 2013, lasted 16 days and largely centered on Republican objections to Obamacare. Before that, it had been 17 years since a federal funding lapse. Partisan battles between President Bill Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress led to a pair of shutdowns in late 1995, the latter stretching into the early days of 1996. To find a shutdown that occurred when one party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress, you’d have to go back to the Carter administration.


— With assistance by Stuart Biggs

US government goes into first shutdown in five years after Senate vote

January 20, 2018

Senate Democrats and Republicans have failed to reach a compromise on a short-term funding measure. The partial shutdown comes on the first anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

US Capitol (Getty Images/A.P. Bernstein)

The US government shut down on Saturday after the Senate failed to pass a procedural vote on a stopgap budget to fund the government.

Most Democrats and some Republicans voted against ending debate and advancing to a vote on a short-term bill to fund the government for the next month in a late-night vote on a House-passed plan.

The failure of the motion means that President Donald Trump will mark exactly one year since taking office with the first shuttered government in five years.

The Republicans, who control the White House and both chambers of Congress, looked set to bear the brunt of responsibility for the shutdown even as they sought to pin blame on Democratic obstructionism.

The vote failed 49 to 50. Sixty votes were needed to end cloture and proceed to a vote on the House bill.

Republicans were asking for a four-week stopgap funding measure to keep the government running.

 Donald Trump (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Brandon)The shutdown marks one year since Trump took office

Showdown over immigration

Democrats, who are seeking to capitalize on any Republican failings during a mid-term election year, may also be faulted after they wouldn’t budge on demands to protect from deportation some 700,000 “Dreamers” who came to the country illegally as children. They sought an even shorter funding measure in order to maintain pressure over immigration issues.

Trump blamed the Democrats in a pre-vote tweet, saying it was “not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border,” a reference to his much-vaunted proposal for a border wall with Mexico.

Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.

The White House said it would not negotiate with the Democrats on immigration until the shutdown ended.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that, “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.”

Likely minimal impact

Washington Post-ABC poll conducted before Friday’s 11th-hour vote found that 48 percent of respondents faulted Trump and Republicans, compared to 28 percent who blamed Democrats.

“As for who gets the blame, people have tended to blame Congress over the president, but given that Republicans control both, it’s likely that they will get almost all of the blame,” Phil Klinkner, a professor of government at Hamilton College, told DW. “As for long-term effects, there probably won’t be much other than reinforcing the notion that Trump and congressional Republicans are pretty ineffective.”

It was unclear for how long the federal government would shut down. The last shutdown in 2013 lasted 16 days.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters before the failed vote that “there’s a really good chance it gets fixed” before government offices open again on Monday.

A short-term government shutdown will likely have minimal impact, especially if only over a weekend.

US federal services and any military operations that are considered essential will go on, but thousands of government workers are set to be furloughed if no deal is reached before Monday.

tj,cw/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa)