Senate Votes to Fund Government

Senators Approve Temporary Spending Measure While Continuing Immigration Talks

Congress will have three weeks under a Senate deal to come to some terms on the so-called Dreamers or risk another potential government shutdown in after Feb. 8. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The U.S. Senate voted early Monday afternoon to end the three-day federal government shutdown and fund the government through Feb. 8.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the three-week funding extension would give senators time to continue negotiating on a possible immigration deal. Schumer said if no deal is reached by Feb. 8, then he had been assured by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that the Senate would vote up or down on a specific provision to decide the fate of the youth involved in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

"While this procedure will not satisfy everyone on both sides, it is a way forward," Schumer said.

The vote was 81-18 to invoke cloture on a measure to approve the short-term package. McConnell's comments on the Senate floor suggested he believed Republicans had won the stare down.

"So long as the government remains open, it would be my intention to take up legislation here in the Senate that would address DACA, border security and related issues as well as disaster relief, defense funding, health care and other important matters," McConnell said.

Of course, while the Senate may choose to advance some immigration legislation, there are no assurances the House of Representatives will take it up. That happened in 2013. Any deal would also have to satisfy President Donald Trump.

Most of the federal government was closed on Monday, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday outlined a wide range of essential services that would continue to operate under a shutdown.

Through his Twitter account, @secretarysonny, Perdue also sent out a series of tweets on each of the services that will remain open.

USDA issued both a news release summary and detailed plans that had been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Perdue's statements were couched in the terms of what would happen if a continuing resolution were not passed.

"USDA is committed to safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide -- and should the government shut down, we will continue to do just that," Perdue said. "I am proud of each USDA employee for everything they do to benefit the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers who depend on our services. It is their mission each day to fulfill our USDA motto, 'Do right and feed everyone.'"

Some of the biggest problems for farmers would be finishing up or closing a loan tied to direct USDA funding or a loan guarantee. Loans would start to get processed again once funding is established, but farm programs and loan activities would be put on hold.

The same goes for loans under agencies such as USDA Rural Development. Borrowers would not be able to secure loans or make payments. "The unavailability of servicing actions not deemed excepted could have a negative impact on the financial stability of customers and mortgage lenders' financial operations.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has announced that the House would accept a continuing resolution that extends only until Feb. 8. The House-passed CR extends until Feb. 16, but Democrats are putting pressure on the Republicans to deal with issues such as a resolution of the undocumented youth known as "Dreamers" who are protected from deportation under the Obama administration's DACA program.

The House was scheduled to go into session at noon Monday.

McConnell thanked Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine for "working across the aisle to help resolve the impasse we find ourselves in." Those senators were working in Collins' office with Democratic senators including several from states that voted for Hillary Clinton and are up for election this year.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Republicans had sent out email blasts in the states of the Democratic senators up for election, saying that because the House bill would reauthorize the children's health program known as CHIP, the Democrats in resistance were putting undocumented immigrants ahead of American children.

The targets of the attack included Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jon Tester of Montana and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Other senators who were subject to the attacks included Bill Nelson of Florida and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Democrats, who knew the attacks were coming, have responded with videos and online ads that point to President Donald Trump's 2013 and 2017 quotes about how a shutdown might be good for Republicans, the Post said.

USDA has a website to inform employees of USDA's operating status: https://www.dm.usda.gov/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

(AG)