By Jim Hendricks, jim.hendricks@albanyherald.com

 

WASHINGTON — After a government funding vote failed Friday at the 10th hour in the U.S. Senate, the partial government shutdown went into effect at the stroke of midnight.

Senators, with a handful of party defections on both sides, voted 50-49 in favor of the measure sent to them by the House, but a minimum of 60 votes were needed to pass the bill under Senate rules. Passage would have kept the government running through mid February.

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Trump administration laid the blame squarely on the Democrats, with the White House referring to the event as the Schumer Shutdown.

“Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, however, countered that Republicans were to blame and that the failure was specifically at Trump’s doorstep. He labeled it the Trump Shutdown.

“It’s almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown,” Schumer said. “And now we will have one. And the blame should crash entirely on President Trump’s shoulders. This will be called the Trump shutdown. This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in than President Trump.”

Georgia’s U.S. senators both supported the continuing resolution’s passage and placed blame on the Democrats.

“This Schumer Shutdown is absolutely ridiculous,” U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga, said early Saturday morning. “It is totally irresponsible for the Democrats to use government funding as a bargaining chip. Democrats have created a false deadline by trying to tie illegal immigration to government funding.”

McConnell in his post-vote remarks said a sticking point with Democrats — deferred deportation action on “Dreamers” — had nothing to do with the funding legislation, a point that Perdue agreed with.

“As I’ve consistently said, these are two totally different issues and should be dealt with separately,” Perdue said. “Ever since I was sworn into the United States Senate, I have been talking about the total collapse of the budgeting process. Only four times in the past 43 years has this budget process actually funded the federal government. These repeated failures have manifested into a pattern of short-term funding patches, continuing resolutions, that hamstring our military. This short-term mentality in Washington has got to stop.

“When Congress fails to complete its budget, the best outcome is that six or eight people determine how to spend a trillion dollars of discretionary spending. Clearly, Congress’ funding mechanism does not work and will never work. We are doomed to this cycle of fiscal irresponsibility until Congress reworks this budget process to successfully meet its Constitutional responsibility of funding the federal government.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who has proposed a biannual budgeting process, said it was “time to stop the theatrics and get to the business of governing.”

“For too long, we have been kicking the can down the road on an operating budget for our government,” Georgia’s senior senator said. “A continuing resolution is not the path I would choose for good governing. Now, we can’t even put aside partisan differences and agree to move forward on a continuing resolution under which we all agree on the big underlying priorities. We can’t even agree to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years so that low-income kids and their families can have access to the health care they need.

“We should immediately be funding children’s health care, our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our seniors as well as other critical functions of the government and not playing political games with our country and our citizens. Shutting down the government is the wrong solution and always causes bigger problems in the end.”

While the shutdown of non-essential government services began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, most effects won’t be noticed until the normal work week for most federal agencies starts Monday.