Bitter Bickering Muddies the Path to Ending the Government Shutdown
The likeliest route for lawmakers to reopen the government is to agree on a stopgap spending measure that stretches longer than the few days that Senate Democrats want, but shorter than the four weeks that the House approved on Thursday.
But agreeing on the length of the stopgap bill — essentially, a matter of circling a date on the calendar — is complicated by a number of contentious issues that lawmakers have yet to resolve, particularly the fate of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, brought to the country illegally as children.
In an ominous sign for those who had hoped for a quick resolution, Mr. Trump’s campaign released an ad on Saturday saying that Democrats who stand in the way of cracking down on illegal immigration “will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” And while the government is closed, the White House is taking a firm stance against entertaining immigration demands.
“The president will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, who late Friday night described Senate Democrats as “obstructionist losers.”
Mr. McConnell is proposing to shorten the temporary spending bill so that it would expire on Feb. 8 instead of Feb. 16 — an extension of three weeks instead of four. Senate Democrats did not immediately get on board with that idea, but Mr. McConnell said he would move ahead with a procedural vote on the proposal at 1 a.m. Monday, unless Democrats allowed it to be held sooner.
A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators, who call themselves the Common Sense Coalition, met Saturday afternoon in the office of Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, to forge a compromise. Members said they were working on various proposals to present to Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer, with the hope that they would talk to each other.