Reports say Senate Democrats in the United States have joined Republicans in voting for a short-term funding bill that will reopen the government this Tuesday after a lack of consensus shuttered the Federal Government at midnight on Friday.
A deal struck between a bipartisan group of Senators will now see the government funded until February 8 with an assurance from the majority leader that legislation on immigration reform, a key Democratic demand, would be taken to the Senate floor in a fair process towards a vote; even if a deal is not reached by the deadline.
The Senate voted 81-18 to re-open the government; a measure expected to pass the House of Representatives and then be sent to the White House for President Trump’s signature.
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal on the Senate Floor.
“The White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend. The great deal-making President sat on the side lines. Despite and because of this frustration, I’ve been having conversations with the Republican leader of the weekend about a path forward. After several discussions, offers, counter offers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to re-open the government, to continue negotiation a global agreement with the commitment that if a commitment isn’t reached by February 8th, the senate will immediately proceed to consideration of legislation dealing with DACA,” said Schumer.
The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme is an Obama-era policy that allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived as children in the country legal status to remain.
This was rescinded by the Trump administration last September with a deadline for its expiration in early March, prompting Democrats to use the leverage they had over government funding to push for a deal on DACA.
“The process will be neutral and fair to all sides. In a few hours the government will reopen. We have a lot to do. The issue of the dreamers demands resolution. A budget must be written, healthcare has to be addressed, relief provided to disaster stricken parts of our country, pensions and opioids, pensions and childcare. The Trump shutdown will soon end but the work must go on and it will,” added Schumer.
The Republican leadership says it will take up legislation on DACA as long as the government remains open.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says: “I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, is that a strategy to shut down a government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future. So I’m glad that we’ve gotten past that and we have a chance now to get back to work.”
Democrats have warned the Republican leader to keep his word.
With immigration being a hot button topic, it remains unclear whether a future Senate agreement will win the approval of the even more conservative House of Representatives.