Senate Democrats dropped their objections to a temporary funding bill when Republican senators agreed to immediately discuss proposals on immigration policies and other contentious issues.
The agreement steers Congress toward reopening the US Federal Government which shut down midnight of 20 January after both sides failed to pass a bill funding government operations and key agencies.
Democrats withheld approval of the bill as they pushed their Senate counterparts to tackle the status of immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Specifically, the Senate Democrats wanted to challenge the issue of DACA recipients facing automatic deportation.
The opposing Senators were also at loggerheads on whether funding should be allocated toward the construction of a wall at the border of Mexico. “The Wall” was a keystone policy during President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Architects have estimated the wall to cost $12 to $15 Billion.
This is the first shutdown in United States history where both chambers of Congress and the White House were controlled by the same party. Coincidentally, it came on the first year anniversary of Trump taking office.
After two days of negotiations, Democrats provided the votes Republicans needed to approve a stopgap spending measure for government operations. In return, Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell gave assurances that the Senate would discuss immigration proposals in the next few weeks.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer hailed the agreement and shared his belief that legislation could be reached that would halt the deportation of DACA recipients who were brought to the US illegally as children and have since raised families and started careers.
The White House through principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah downplayed the agreement and simply said the Democrats “blinked”.
Republicans felt Democrats bear the brunt of public outcry for the shutdown and would eventually give in. The White House and the Republican party had previously stated they would not agree to Democrats’ proposals to discuss immigration policies until the government was reopened.
Despite the consensus agreement, a number of Democrats stayed to their original position opposing the stopgap measures. These Senators included Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Diane Feinstein of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
For her part, Sen. Feinstein expressed doubts the Republicans would support a proposal to protect more than 700,000 young immigrants.
With the shutdown, many US government offices were closed or had to institute drastic cutbacks at the start of the Monday workweek.