WASHINGTON – Following a weekend of tense negotiations, Minnesota’s Democratic senators voted to end a short-lived government shutdown.
The 2018 shutdown was short and not-so-sweet, but Sen. Amy Klobuchar, part of the bipartisan group that worked out the compromise, said the weekend’s work felt like a return to the Senate’s roots.
“People were really talking together and there was never one negative thing said,” said Klobuchar, who joined a group of bipartisan moderates that brokered an end to the legislative deadlock.
By Monday evening, the Senate voted 81-18 to fund the federal government for the next three weeks and potentially buy enough time for Congress to complete the 2018 budget bills and work out a legislative fix to keep nearly 800,000 undocumented young migrants in the country where they grew up.
Both Klobuchar and newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith had voted against the stopgap spending bill last Friday, in part over concerns about participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In exchange for their votes, Senate Republican leaders pledged a vote on DACA, which is set to expire in March.
For Klobuchar and Smith, the vote for the stopgap bill risked angering immigration activists in their party, who generally responded with anger at those Democrats who joined up with Republicans.
In addition to funding the government through Feb. 8, the short-term spending bill included several appealing provisions for Minnesota, including a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which lapsed last year. The bill also included a two-year moratorium on an Obama-era medical device tax.
“This is progress, but we have much, much more to fight for,” Smith said in a statement. “I’ve only been here for about three weeks, but I know that you can’t run a great country on a month-to-month budget.”
The weekend negotiations were a repeat performance for Klobuchar, who was part of the bipartisan “common sense caucus” that helped end a lengthier government shutdown in 2013.
Now, she said, “we have an actual path forward on a long-term budget” that she hopes will include additional funding to help states deal with opioid epidemics and faltering pension systems.
For the short duration of the shutdown, Minnesota lawmakers canceled travel plans and started making shutdown provisions as staffers braced for possible furloughs. Members of Congress would receive their paychecks during a government shutdown, although many announced they would forgo or donate their salaries for the duration of the shutdown.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, has been pushing legislation that would cut off congressional pay during a government shutdown. He planned to donate his salary from the three-day shutdown to Minnesota charities, as he had during previous budget impasses.
Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen had just turned in his paperwork, asking the House administrator to withhold his salary during the shutdown, when the Senate broke its deadlock.
“It’s wrong to shut down the government, it’s irresponsible,” said Paulsen. “I’m glad the Senate finally came together in a bipartisan effort … Now we can move past what was avoidable [and] reopen the government.”