Illinois Republican Representatives Blame State's Democratic Senators For Shutdown
Republicans and Democrats are each blaming the other party for the impasse that has caused government funding to expire and a partial government shutdown to loom on Monday.
During a conference call with reporters Saturday, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said six years of government funding for a children's health insurance program (CHIP) should have been enough to encourage bipartisan support, though it did not get that in either chamber.
"We gave them a good bill," said Davis, "a bill that did not have extraneous issues on it, funded priorities that are American priorities and not just Republican priorities, and they voted instead to shut the government down. That is wrong."
CHIP affects more than 300,000 Illinois children.
Davis said he does not think the shutdown was necessary and that he believes the timing of the deadlock close to the first anniversary of President Donald Trump taking office is not a coincidence. He also accused Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois of hypocrisy.
"In 2013, he actually said it takes cowardice to allow a shutdown," Davis said. "Now, he is leading the filibuster that is actually stopping the Senate from passing this government funding mechanism."
Five Republican senators voted against the funding measure, and five Democrats voted for it -- still leaving the total nine votes short of passage.
Some Democrats held out because the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration program was not addressed. Some Republicans did not like the lack of funding continuity for the military.
Asked what he thought could be added to the bill to attract nine more votes in the Senate and still be approved by the House, Davis said, "The answer is pass our bill. If they pass our bill, they don't need to send it back to the House."
It has been more than four months since the Trump administration terminated DACA and called for Congress to come up with a legislative solution. Durbin's statement before the vote noted that -- beginning March 5 -- 1,000 young people will lose DACA protection each day. The Trump administration has acknowledged that it will take six months to implement legislation.
“So what has the Republican majority in the House and Senate done in the four and a half months since we received that challenge from President Trump?" Durbin asked. "Nothing. Nothing. And then I hear Senator McConnell say we haven’t even seen a written proposal from the Democrats on this. The Senator knows better. A group of us, six of us -- three Democrats and three Republicans -- accepted President Trump’s challenge and produced a bipartisan solution.
"We have described it to everyone, Democrat, Republican alike. It was a good-faith effort. Real compromise. Pain on both sides. It’s ready. It’s ready to be brought to the floor of the United States Senate. It’s ready to be passed into law," he continued. "For Senator McConnell to say he doesn’t know anything about it, I’m sorry, but we have been very open about what’s included in there. He knows it’s a product of long and hard bipartisan work.”
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth issued a statement following the vote that led with a point echoed by many Republican House defense hawks who did not like the lack of long-term funding for the military. Duckworth then went on to other issues particular to her party.
“In addition to seriously harming our Armed Forces, this bill fails to adequately support Veterans or fund community health centers, and it leaves hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in a state of uncertainty. Enough is enough," she said. "I didn’t spend 23 years in the military going through multiple deployments just to weaken our national security, hurt our troops and kick the can down the road again.
"If they wanted to, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump could address these concerns with bipartisan votes on Republican-written legislation that solve each of these problems, and they know it. That they haven’t-even though they control all levers of government-jeopardizes not just our military, but the well-being of the very people we took an oath to serve,” she said.
The immigration issue further tangles the web of possible bills. Some Republicans have said they won't support a funding measure that includes DACA without funding for Trump's proposed wall on the border with Mexico. Some Democrats have said they won't support money for the wall without comprehensive immigration reform. The word "comprehensive" suggests to many Republicans amnesty for long-term undocumented immigrants apart from Dreamers and is a nonstarter with them.
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, and several other GOP House members from Illinois also issued a statement accusing Durbin and Duckworth of placing party leadership over the state of Illinois in that the shutdown endangers funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and military funding.
The statement reads: "We are asking Senators Durbin and Duckworth to vote on the substance of the bill; we are asking them to vote to reopen the government immediately. Holding the U.S. government hostage over unrelated issues that we have all committed to addressing is no way to govern.”
In spite of the wrangling, Davis said he is optimistic the Senate can get a bill and that negotiations are continuing. Davis said, though, so far, the phones are not ringing much and the volume of calls to his office is predominantly on other issues.