If Republican leaders want to advance a three-week continuing resolution as a way out of the government shutdown, they will likely need to round up the votes among themselves.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Saturday rejected a fall-back plan by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a continuing resolution lasting until Feb. 8 and hold an open floor debate on an immigration bill.
“There’s no point having a CR unless we have the terms of engagement on how we go forward,” the California Democrat said.
She said Democrats would agree to a short-term CR once there’s an agreement on “parity” for both national security and domestic funding in raising statutory budget caps, as well as a deal to address border security and the fate of the young immigrants — also known as Dreamers — protected by the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“They’re using the Dreamers as an excuse not to invest in our domestic agenda,” Pelosi said of the GOP. Democrats have been pushing for increased nondefense spending and funding for opioids, community health centers and pensions, among other things.
“They’re using the Dreamers as a shield for their incompetence,” she said.
“We believe in governance, we don’t believe in shutdowns,” Pelosi emphasized, rebutting a question on how far Democrats are willing to go into the shutdown to extract their demands.
House GOP leaders, like Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, have signaled they are open to passing a CR that lasts until Feb. 8.
Some of Pelosi’s rank and file are saying the contours of negotiations need to change more sharply than they are likely to. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon said Speaker Paul D. Ryan erred in negotiating with the Freedom Caucus to secure 218 House votes on the CR, saying striking a deal with the most extreme faction of Congress “is always a dead end.”
He urged Ryan to negotiate with Democrats going forward.
Ryan did not seem to be in the mood.
“At this hour, the federal government is needlessly shut down because of Senate Democrats,” Ryan said on the House floor in a rare Saturday session. “This did not need to happen.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina declined to say whether his group would support a CR through Feb. 8.
“We’re not going to negotiate against ourselves,” he said, referring to the fact that the House passed a four-week CR on Thursday night and the Senate has yet to pass anything.
David Lerman contributed to this report.
Watch: McConnell, Durbin Make Their Case as Shutdown Looms