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US lawmakers scramble to avert government shutdown

US lawmakers scramble to avert government shutdown
'You've taken the dreamers hostage. Release them. We're ready to pay ransom,' congressman tells Anadolu Agency

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - The Senate's top Democrat is on his way to the White House on Friday in a last-minute bid to avoid a government shutdown that could cost the U.S. billions of dollars each day.

Senator Chuck Schumer will meet President Donald Trump ahead of a midnight deadline for senators to pass a spending bill to fund the government.

Democrats have adamantly insisted any spending bill should include a renewal of protections for individuals brought to the country illegally as children, popularly known as "Dreamers", staking their support on any spending bill on the protections' inclusion.

The House of Representatives passed the continuing resolution that would fund the government through the middle of February late Thursday with little Democratic support.

In the Senate, however, the narrow 51-seat Republican majority makes pushing the measure through that chamber without some bipartisan support a seemingly impossible task. Republican leadership needs to gather roughly a dozen Democrats to their side to come up with a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority.

Democrats have warned they will filibuster the legislation, risking blame if the government shuts down.

"Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!" Trump posted on Twitter.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the federal government is preparing for a government shutdown during remarks to reporters.

"It still surprises me, and I've been through some of these before, that the Democrats in the Senate are opposing a bill that they don't oppose," Mulvaney said. "We do not want not want a shutdown, but if Mr. Schumer insists on it he is in a position to force this on the American people."

Democrats in the House and the Senate have resisted suggestions that if a shutdown occurs it is their fault. Congress has until March 5 to vote on a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and "there's absolutely no reason to tie these two things together right now", Mulvaney said.

While speaking to Anadolu Agency on Friday, Representative Luis Gutierrez stressed that Republicans are in firm control of the legislature and it is up to them to pass the spending bill.

"The last time I checked, they're in charge," Gutierrez said, pointing to Republican control of the House of Representatives, Senate and the White House. "Guess what? It's their mess. They created it. Release the hostages. You've taken the dreamers hostage. Release them. We're ready to pay ransom."

If the government shuts down, federal workers would not be paid, and tasks deemed "non-essential" would not be carried out.

Law enforcement efforts, airport security, military operations and other tasks classified "essential" would proceed as normal but federal employees would not be paid during the shutdown.

source: News Feed
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