Jan. 22 (UPI) — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Monday afternoon to reopen the government, three days into a federal shutdown.
Democrats agreed to advance the measure and the upper chamber passed it by a vote of 81-18.
Previously, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would vote to end the shutdown with the expectation that the Republican Party will abide by an agreement to address the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has been a key sticking point in negotiations.
The deal is a short-term fix, funding the government through Feb. 8, with ongoing negotiations on immigration and federal spending.
“The process will be neutral and fair to all sides,” Schumer said. “We expect that a bipartisan bill on DACA will receive fair consideration and an up-or-down vote on the floor.”
“The Republican majority has 17 days to prevent the dreamers from being deported. Mr. President, we have away to address the fate of the dreamers, right now, instead of waiting until March.”
Although Democrats have been skeptical of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s commitment to the immigration cause, Schumer said he was “encouraged” by the Kentucky Reublican’s promises in negotiations.
“I realize there’s a trust deficit up here generally, but I think one of the first steps to regaining that trust is for the leader to make that commitment and follow through on it,” Majority Whip John Cornyn R-Texas said, noting that McConnell’s pledge to Democrats is “all they’re gonna get.”
Schumer, who promised earlier Monday there were 60 votes to reopen the government, has criticized the Republican Party and President Donald Trump for “sitting on the sidelines” during the shutdown and negotiations.
“The reason the Republican majority had such difficulty finding consensus is they could never get a firm grip on what the president of their party wanted to do,” he said. “These days, you never know who to deal with when it comes to the Republicans.”
“My recent offer to the president was a generous one, I put his signature campaign issue on the table in exchange for DACA, but still, he turned away…the great dealmaking president sat on the sidelines.”
McConnell said Democrats caved after realizing the shutdown wasn’t politically wise.
“I think if we’ve learned anything during this process it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something that the American people didn’t understand,” McConnell said.
Lawmakers in the Senate have been working since Friday, when government funding ran out, to produce a resolution dedicating more money to keeping federal offices and services open and running. Negotiations on Saturday and Sunday failed before a Monday vote was set to try again.
Democrats have been pushing for a fix for DACA, which protects roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, ever since Trump announced he would end the program without an adjustment to make it work in step with his tougher policy on undocumented immigration.
Democrats stalled on a longer-term spending bill until a bipartisan agreement was reached for DACA recipients. Trump, who previously rejected a bipartisan immigration deal, made volatile comments this month about immigrants traveling to the United States from “shithole countries” — remarks that some say threw a wrench into negotiations on the issue.
The vote will now go the House of Representatives.