WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump signed a government spending bill Monday evening that ends a three-day partial shutdown, the White House said in a statement.
Democrats reluctantly voted to pay for resumed operations in return for Republican assurances that the Senate will soon take up the plight of young immigrant "Dreamers" and other contentious issues.
The House joined the Senate in passing the bill to put hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work, fund the government through Feb. 8, reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program and roll back about $31 billion in health care taxes, including a delay in implementing a tax on medical devices. It passed 81-18 in the Senate and 266-150 in the House.
The short-term spending measure, however, means both sides may wind up in a shutdown stalemate again in three weeks.
"I'm glad we can finally get back to work here," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the vote. He called the shutdown a "manufactured crisis" characterized by "damaging partisan theatrics," and offered Democrats new assurances that the Senate would consider immigration proposals in the coming weeks.
Democratic senators who relented in the standoff said they did not necessarily trust McConnell but had faith that the bipartisan negotiators, including Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., would force him to abide by his commitments.
"Frankly, our trust is more with our colleagues, that they will hold him accountable," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who is up for re-election this year in a state Trump won in 2016.
Collins joined Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in helping to broker the agreement, with Flake and Graham shuttling between huddles with McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., for much of the weekend. A bipartisan group of more than 20 senators worked to find common ground.
The relief among senators upon reaching a deal was palpable. As the voting began, Schumer shouted from his seated position, "Lindsey! Thank you, my friend," he said as Graham approached and shook his hand. "We wouldn't be here without you."
In an unusual display of comity, the Republicans and Democrats who worked on the deal gathered off the Senate floor after Monday's vote for a celebratory huddle.
"If we can make a lasting difference in how the Senate of the United States works, we can get it back to working," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who had been instrumental in the group.
However, on the Senate floor, No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said the Democrats "got nothing" in the deal. He added that even though McConnell promised to take up the immigration bill by February, "he was going to do that anyway."
Before signing the bill, Trump welcomed Democrats' decision and said the administration would "work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration."
"I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses," he added in a statement.
In addition to negotiations over the future of the Dreamers, McConnell agreed to discuss border security, military spending and other budget debates. If those talks don't yield a deal in the next three weeks, the Republican promised to allow the Senate to debate an immigration proposal -- even if it's 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.
DEMOCRATS TAKE FLAK
By relenting, the Democrats prompted a backlash from immigration activists and liberal base supporters who wanted them to fight longer and harder for legislation to protect from deportation the 700,000 or so younger illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
"The Republican majority now has 17 days to prevent the Dreamers from being deported," Schumer said, underscoring the impending deadline. The term "Dreamer" is based on the never-passed DREAM Act -- the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that would have given protections similar to those provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump moved to end last year.
Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, said the members of the group are "outraged" by the deal. She added that senators who voted Monday in favor of the deal "are not resisting Trump, they are enablers."
Other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union shared similar criticism.
The plan doesn't tie the immigration vote to another piece of legislation, a tactic often used to build momentum. It also doesn't address support for an immigration plan in the House, where opposition to extending the protections for the Dreamers is far stronger.
Some liberal Democrats stuck to their opposition, including some touted as potential 2020 presidential candidates. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey voted no, as did independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Dianne Feinstein of California said she wasn't persuaded by McConnell's assurances and did not know how a proposal to protect the young immigrants would fare in the House.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he hoped to be "celebrating" with DACA recipients after a possible victory in three weeks.
"To all the 'Dreamers' watching today: Don't give up," he said on the Senate floor. "I know your lives are hanging in the balance."
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana voted no on the procedural motion to reopen the government -- the only no vote among 10 incumbent Democrats facing re-election this year in states won by Trump in 2016. Tester said in a statement that the 17-day budget did not include any funding for community health centers that are important to his rural state, nor did the deal include additional resources for border security.
Hours after the Senate moved to end the shutdown, Trump dove back into negotiations over immigration legislation.
The president met with Cornyn and five other conservative Senate Republicans -- Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma, David Perdue of Georgia and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Cotton called it "a good conversation."
"He wanted to talk [about] new ideas, and we gave him some ideas and we think the White House will be introducing some of those new ideas very soon, perhaps as early as [today]," the Republican from Dardanelle said.
Whatever Trump suggests will be markedly different from an earlier plan that was discussed, he said.
"The president made it clear that the proposal that Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin and others had made a couple of weeks ago is a nonstarter -- dead on arrival," Cotton said.
The Graham-Durbin plan "provides amnesty for anywhere from 5-10 million people without really securing our border or stopping extended family chain migration," he said.
Cotton said he and other Republicans want to help the Dreamers and envision legislation that will resolve their status.
"That's been our intent all along, but we have to do it in a responsible fashion. If we give legal protections to illegal immigrants, that will inevitably encourage more illegal immigration. It will create an entire new pool of immigrants who can bring in more family members without regard to their education or their skills or their job opportunities," he said.
Lawmakers, Cotton said, "have to be responsible and address those consequences but I, like most Republicans and like the president, do want to provide legal protections for those people who were brought here through no fault of their own as minors."
Trump also discussed immigration later in the day with two centrist Democrats who'd voted with Republicans to keep the government running -- West Virginia's Manchin and newly elected Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.
"I think that he had a feeling that we're two of the five that voted not to shut down on the Democrats' side, we're going to give him an honest opinion and be an honest broker," Manchin said afterward, adding that the president was in "a very attentive, listening mood."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wanted to move forward with immigration talks.
"As soon as the Senate voted to reopen the government, the president continued conversations on the next steps on responsible immigration reform," Sanders said. "We will work with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate committed to fixing our broken immigration system."
Information for this article was contributed by Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Zeke Miller, Mary Clare Jalonick, Kevin Freking, Luis Alonso Lugo, Catherine Lucey, Matthew Daly, Darlene Superville of The Associated Press; by Robert Costa, Erica Werner, Ed O'Keefe and Elise Viebeck of The Washington Post; by Lisa Mascaro and Sarah D. Wire of the Los Angeles Times; by Laura Litvan, Arit John, Justin Sink, Steven T. Dennis, Erik Wasson, Sahil Kapur and Billy House of Bloomberg News; and by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. (center), stops to answer questions from members of the media Monday on Capitol Hill in Washington on day three of the government shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gives the thumbs up as he leaves the Senate floor after reaching an agreement Monday to advance a bill ending the government shutdown.
A Section on 01/23/2018
Print Headline: Lawmakers end shutdown; Democrats given word on DACA