The federal government will reopen — at least for a few more weeks — as senators came to a temporary agreement in a noon showdown Monday.
With a vote of 81-18, the stopgap effort gets the government back up and running until Feb. 8 under a bipartisan agreement that the Senate immediately dives back into the immigration debate and decides what to do about the Dreamers.
Only two Republicans — Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah — voted against the proposal; the rest of the no votes came from Democrats.
“Now comes the real test, as to whether we can get this done,” Sen. Richard Durbin (R-Ill.) said on the floor before the vote.
DACA, the program protecting illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, expires in March, but the agreement for reopening the government hinged on promises from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a bill to the Senate floor dealing with it and other immigration matters, if no deal is struck by Feb. 8.
The Trump Administration seemed optimistic about reaching an agreement on immigration legislation over the next few weeks.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of daylight between where we are and where the Democrats are,” White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday afternoon. “We certainly want to negotiate.”
The punditocracy declared the vote a victory for the Trump White House even before the votes were fully counted.
“This can only, in the moment, be viewed as a victory for President Trump on the shutdown issue itself and the politics around it,” CBS tweeted during a special report.
The shutdown may have only lasted three days, but the partisan blame game and finger-pointing are only just getting started.
Since no one was around to answer the phones, the White House’s voicemail has already been putting the blame squarely on the Dems.
“Thank you for calling the White House,” the recording said. “Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today, because Congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down.”
The Republican National Committee is also looking to capitalize on the shut down, according to Axios, launching a six-figure-cost midterm election campaign over the weekend in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The 2.6 million voters in those battleground states, which all have Democrats in the Senate, can can expect the barrage of campaign calls and mailers to start soon and continue all the way through the fall.