Congress failed to agree on a spending deal before midnight on January 20, setting a federal government shutdown in motion for the first time since October 2013.
House Republicans had approved a four-week continuing spending resolution on January 18, which met one of the key Democratic demands (a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program). However, that bill did not include a fix for the DREAMers facing possible deportation after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ends on March 5. It passed on a mostly party-line vote, with support from Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for short-term spending resolutions in December but drew the line this week, explaining in a written statement,
“Congress must remain in Washington until a long-term funding agreement has been reached. After a dysfunctional and chaotic process, for the fourth time this fiscal year, Paul Ryan and Republican leaders in the House have yet again resorted to kicking the can down the road just so they can get out of town for the weekend. I have previously supported short-term funding agreements in hopes of finding a long-term solution. But it is now past time for gimmicks that will only lead to another manufactured crisis in February. I remain prepared to stay in Washington and work until a long-term plan is in place. I continue to believe that a commonsense solution can be reached and remain hopeful folks are willing to come to the table in order to achieve positive results for Iowans.”
House members voted to adjourn on the morning of January 19, in effect telling the Senate to accept their deal or shut down the government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted out a ransom note pitting 8.9 million children who get health care against the DACA recipients. Why choose one or the other? The overwhelming majority of Americans want to extend the CHIP program and protect those brought to this country as children from deportation.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Donald Trump had a phone conversation and lunch meeting on Friday to hammer out a compromise, during which Schumer offered tentative support for a border wall. The New York Times reported, "Mr. Schumer left the White House believing he had persuaded the president to support a short, three to four-day spending extension to finalize an agreement, which would also include disaster funding and health care measures." But later in the day, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called the top Senate Democrat to reject the deal.
After hours of negotiations and huddles on the Senate floor, a motion to end debate on the House short-term spending bill fell ten votes short of the 60 needed for cloture late Friday night. Iowa's Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted yes, along with most of the Senate Republicans. Four GOP senators and most of the chamber's Democrats opposed the cloture motion.
Following last month's capitulation on a short-term spending bill with no DACA fix, I'm pleasantly surprised most House and Senate Democrats went to the mat to protect DREAMers this week. The principle is worth fighting for.
Statements from most of the Iowans in Congress are below. Note how Ernst tries to have it both ways, bashing Democrats even as she declares, "It’s incredibly important that we find a fix for DACA recipients as they are so important to our communities and to our future." Republicans are unlikely to allow DREAMers to stay as part of a stand-alone immigration bill. GOP senators filibustered the DREAM Act in 2010, and House leaders refused to bring the Senate's bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill to a floor vote in 2013 or 2014.
I will update this post as needed.
Statement from Senator Chuck Grassley, January 20:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa issued the following statement after the failure to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded resulted in the shutdown of the federal government.
“If the 2016 presidential election proved anything, it’s that Americans wanted a new way of doing things, and just want their government to work. That’s true in Iowa and the entire country. It’s disappointing that Democratic leaders chose to vote against legislation that would have kept the government up and running just to make a point about a policy unrelated to government funding. The legislation they opposed also would have extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, which millions of kids rely on for health care. Shutting down the government forces men and women in uniform to work without pay. It also puts taxpayers on the hook to spend billions of dollars to pay federal workers to sit at home with nothing to show for it.
“Democrats demanded a DACA fix for the government to stay open but didn’t even introduce their legislation to debate. The Senate couldn’t have voted on their bill if we wanted to, because it didn’t exist. The demands also didn’t make sense because the DACA deadline isn’t until March. I introduced legislation in December that included bipartisan provisions like Sen. Durbin’s BRIDGE Act to protect DACA recipients. Since then, I’ve been working regularly with my colleagues on a bill that would achieve real border security, end chain migration and the diversity visa lottery program and provide DACA recipients with legal status. That goal was agreed to in a bicameral, bipartisan meeting at the White House. There’s a deal to be made on DACA and time to make it. Shutting down the government because we didn’t vote on a bill that doesn’t exist is no way to serve Americans or DACA recipients.
“A government with closed doors is bad news for an economy that is finally picking up speed. If the government isn’t re-opened soon, it could mean fewer jobs, lost wages and lower growth. There’s no reason government can’t be re-opened while Congress addresses unrelated issues. I hope Democrats will stop the partisanship, come to the table and end this shutdown.”
Statement from Senator Joni Ernst, January 20:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) issued the following statement regarding Senate Democrats’ decision to shut down the federal government:
“Over the years, I’ve made clear that I don’t like funding our federal government from one short-sighted, band-aid bill to another. We must establish plans to responsibly fund our government long-term.
“However, the extension voted on tonight would have reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, providing approximately 80,000 Iowa children with access to important health care services, especially in rural and underserved areas. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are playing political games and opposed our efforts to ensure this critical funding is in place for children in Iowa and across the country.
“The Senate Democrats who chose to play politics with children’s health care also set arbitrary deadlines regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). America is a nation of immigrants, and our diversity is our strength. It’s incredibly important that we find a fix for DACA recipients as they are so important to our communities and to our future. Many young, undocumented children were brought here through no fault of their own. Congress has been and must continue to work together to identify and pursue a measured approach that addresses DACA recipients’ unique situation, and also respects the importance of our immigration laws, keeps our borders secure, and discourages future illegal immigration. There is still time to achieve a solution, but holding the government hostage and stalling important discussions on DACA is nonsensical.
“Additionally, despite their rhetoric otherwise, Senate Democrats are turning their back on our men and women in uniform by putting our military’s resources and readiness in jeopardy. It is inexcusable.
“It’s my hope that Senate Democrats will put their reckless games aside and start working with us on a path forward to fund the government, ensure low-income children have access to health care, provide the resources our military needs, and find a solution for DACA recipients.”
Statement from Representative Rod Blum, January 18:
Tonight, Congressman Rod Blum released the following statement about his vote FOR the Continuing Resolution to keep the Federal government open.
“Tonight’s funding bill is yet another example of business as usual here in Washington DC - waiting until the final moment to act instead of planning ahead like a family or small business in Iowa would do. Having said that, the U.S. House DID plan ahead and passed all 12 spending bills over 125 days ago. However, the Senate failed to take up any of these bills through the regular order process. Additionally, I’m happy to support and see the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) extended for six years as this safety net is important to countless families across my district."
Congressman Blum also voted FOR a CHIP extension earlier this Congress on November 3rd, and again on December 21st with the previous Continuing Resolution.
Statement from Abby Finkenauer, Democratic candidate in IA-01, January 19:
Dubuque, IA – With news that the federal government is now shut down, Abby Finkenauer released the following statement:
"Republicans, who control all levels of government in Washington, are failing to do even the most basic part of their job. Keeping the government open and providing essential services is the bare minimum of what we expect from Congress, and their inability to do so will hurt working families here in Iowa. This is exactly why I'm running for Congress - to bring commonsense leadership to D.C."
Statement from Representative David Young, January 18:
Young's fight for CHIP funding moves out of House
January 18, 2018 Press Release
Iowa Congressman David Young this evening supported legislation passed out of the House of Representatives funding the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years and the federal government until February 16. The legislation also includes Missile Defense funding, delays in the Health Insurance Tax, Cadillac Tax, and Medical Device Tax.
After the vote, Congressman Young said the following:
"After months of patchwork fixes and extensions, the Children's Health Insurance Program has gotten the long-term extension I've been asking for and working on for months. The Senate must now act to make sure the 85,000 Iowa children and their parents who rely on CHIP have access to the quality care they deserve.
"While I’m disappointed Congress has not passed fiscally responsible, long-term funding legislation until the end of the fiscal year, I supported the short-term spending bill because shutting down the government is bad governance. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to address the challenges we face including a long-term spending deal – this is what the people of Iowa expect and deserve from their government and it’s what I’ll continue fighting to deliver."
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UPDATE: Young's office released this statement on January 20.
“We in the House voted to keep the people’s government open. The Senate’s inability to fund the government and keep it open is bad governance. For now, I will remain in Washington, DC and continue working with my colleagues for the Third District until we fund and open the government.”
NOTE: Congressman Young's Washington office will be open Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21 from 8-5 CST unless the government is funded. Iowans experiencing problems as a result of the shutdown or who wish to share their thoughts, ideas, or opinions can call the Washington office at 202-225-5476. Should the government shutdown continue, changes to Congressman Young's Coffee With My Congressman schedule in the Third District may change and updates will be provided on the Congressman's social media pages and at young.house.gov.