US President Donald Trump late on Monday signed a bill reopening the government, ending a 69-hour display of partisan dysfunction after Democrats reluctantly voted to temporarily pay for resumed operations.
They relented in return for Republican assurances that the US Senate would soon take up the plight of young immigrant “Dreamers” and other contentious issues.
The vote set the stage for hundreds of thousands of federal workers to return to their jobs yesterday, cutting short what could have become a messy and costly impasse.
The US House of Representatives approved the measure and Trump later signed it behind closed doors at the White House, but by relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal supporters, who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,000 or so young immigrants who were taken to the US as children and now are living there illegally.
Democrats climbed onboard after two days of negotiations that ended with new assurances from US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks, but there were deep divides in the Democratic caucus over the strategy, as red-state lawmakers fighting for their survival broke with progressives looking to satisfy liberals’ and immigrants’ demands.
Under the agreement, Democrats provided enough votes to pass the stopgap spending measure keeping the government open until Feb. 8.
In return, McConnell agreed to resume negotiations over the future of the Dreamers, border security, military spending and other budget debates.
If those talks do not yield a deal in the next three weeks, the Republican promised to allow the US Senate to debate an immigration proposal — even if it is one crafted by a bipartisan group, and does not have the backing of the leadership and the White House, lawmakers said.
McConnell had previously said he would bring a deal to a vote only if Trump supported it.
Sixty votes were needed to end the Democrats’ filibuster and the party’s senators provided 33 of the 81 the measure got.
Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.
Hours later the US Senate passed the final bill by the same 81-18 vote, sending it to the House of Representatives, which quickly voted its approval and sent the measure on to Trump.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders predicted that operations would return to normal by yesterday morning.
The plan is far from what many activists and Democrats hoped when they decided to use the budget deadline as leverage.
It does not tie the immigration vote to another piece of legislation, a tactic often used to build momentum. It also does not address support for an immigration plan in the House, where opposition to extending the protections for the Dreamers is far stronger.
The short-term spending measure means both sides could wind up in a shutdown stalemate again in three weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer lent his backing to the agreement during a speech on the chamber’s floor.
“Now there is a real pathway to get a bill on the floor and through the Senate,” he said of legislation to halt any deportation efforts aimed at the young immigrants.
The White House downplayed McConnell’s commitment and said Democrats caved under pressure.
“They blinked,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN.
In a statement, Trump said he is open to an immigration deal only if it is “good for our country.”
Immigration activists and other groups harshly criticized the deal reached by the Democratic leadership.
Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, said the members of the group are “outraged.”
She added that senators who voted in favor of the deal “are not resisting Trump, they are enablers.”
Other groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed disappointment and similar criticism.
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