Having failed to attain the necessary votes Friday for a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government funded, Congress began Monday without a deal to reopen the government.
The process has been complicated by President Trump’s interference. The GOP’s original plan was to offer reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years in exchange for Democratic support for the continuing resolution. If CHIP is not reauthorized, almost two million children from low-income families – including 125,000 children in Minnesota alone – could lose their health coverage by the end of the month, with even more losing coverage in the months following. But Trump tweeted opposition to the plan on the eve of its passage, spooking Democratic lawmakers.
Democrats also wanted an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to legally live, work, and go to school. The program ended in September and Trump called on Congress to pass an extension. Some 6,000 Minnesota “Dreamers” – people who were protected under DACA – could be deported to countries they have never been to or barely remember if DACA is not renewed.
Republicans are now trying to force a false choice between funding CHIP or reauthorizing DACA. The president, unfortunately, has totally abdicated responsibility: neither Trump nor White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over the weekend.
Until Congress restores funding, some 800,000 government employees will be out of work.
The impact of the shutdown extends to Minnesota. During the 16-day federal shutdown in 2013, 18,000 federal employees were furloughed – sent home without paychecks or benefits. National parks, IRS and Social Security offices, and other federally administered programs and offices were shuttered. Schools were forced to cancel field trips and hunters were barred from federal lands.
While the House voted Friday in favor of a short-term funding extension into February, the Senate did not. Like all but 11 members of his own party, Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) voted for the resolution to keep the government open Friday. “There is nothing in the continuing resolution that anyone should have voted against,” said Paulsen. “Certainly there were things that were not included. But you find out what those things are and move on them constructively. Hopefully, we will have DACA as part of the next step.”
The House bill also included one of Paulsen’s pet projects: a two-year moratorium extension of the medical device tax.
Only one Democratic House member from Minnesota, Rep. Collin Peterson, voted in favor of the bill, which passed 230-197.
As of Monday, negotiations are still underway, and a compromise could be in sight. But there’s no way to know how long the shutdown will last.
Featured image via YouTube.