White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday that the White House wouldn't negotiate with Democrats on immigration at all until they agree to keep the government open, a statement she delivered just after most Democrats voted against a last-minute continuing spending resolution.
“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” Sanders said. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”
“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown,” Sanders added. “Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans.”
As lawmaker returned to work Saturday morning and into the afternoon, Sanders issued an update saying President Trump is being kept up to speed on what is being discussed on Capitol Hill.
"He has spoken with [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell a couple of times this morning and just spoke with [House] Speaker [Paul] Ryan within the last hour," she said in a statement Saturday just after noon. "We are committed to making sure the American people, especially our great military and the most vulnerable children are taken care of. The President will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government."
Congress missed the deadline to avert a shutdown as most Senate Democrats and a few Republicans voted to block a temporary spending bill that would have authorized funding for the government until Feb. 16. The House approved the stopgap spending measure on Thursday.
Five Senate Democrats voted to support the bill, and five Republicans voted against it.
Republicans needed to find 60 votes to end debate on the House bill, but the final vote was 50-49, well short of that goal. One of the "no" votes was McConnell, R-Ky., who voted against it because, procedurally, it lets him call it up again. A final passage vote would have only required a simple majority.
Democrats balked at the spending bill, because they are trying to include a provision in it to protect “Dreamers” covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevents those who came to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported.
Trump issued his first comments on the shutdown in a series of early-morning tweets, asserting that Democrats "could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."
"This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," Trump tweeted just hours after the partial shutdown began. "Democrats are far more concerned with Illegal Immigrants than they are with our great Military or Safety at our dangerous Southern Border. They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead. #WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!"
While Trump blamed the Democrats for being intransigent, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., claimed that he was open to considering a wishlist item from Trump and his Republican allies in an effort to come to a compromise: funding for a border wall with Mexico.
"During the meeting, in exchange for strong DACA protections, I reluctantly put the border wall on the table for the discussion," Schumer said on the Senate floor early Saturday morning, referring to his meeting with Trump at the White House about a coming to an agreement on the spending deal. "Even that was not enough to entice the president to finish the deal," Schumer added.
Members of both chambers of Congress are now back to work on reaching a deal to end the fledgling shutdown, and so far congressional leaders have floated a shorter three-week stopgap measure as well as a four-day version.
The last time the government entered a shutdown was in 2013 under the Obama administration.