WASHINGTON — The U.S. Congress voted Monday to reopen the federal government for 17 days with the promise by Republican senators of a deal to protect those affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The Senate voted 81-18 early Monday afternoon to end debate on the bill — passing the 60-vote mark needed for a final vote, which was not reached Friday evening by the chamber — before voting in an equal manner for the measure. The House of Representatives approved the measure 266-150 before President Donald Trump signed the continuing resolution.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for the bill, as did Republican Reps. David McKinley and Evan Jenkins. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., opposed the measure, as he did in a vote last Thursday.
The continuing resolution keeps the government open through Feb. 8 and reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. The program provides health insurance for families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, which includes more than 21,000 families in West Virginia.
Manchin said he and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine began Friday getting lawmakers together to pass a resolution. Manchin added by Monday morning, 25 senators had joined what he called the Common Sense Coalition.
“These are people who put their differences aside, put their politics aside to try to find a pathway forward,” he said.
Manchin said while some lawmakers were more vocal about their disagreements with those in the opposing political party, the coalition was focused on reaching a compromise to restore full government operations.
“To have my colleagues come out and start partisanshiping this and blaming everybody, my goodness,” he said. “That didn’t fix anything.”
Manchin added President Donald Trump did not reach out to the coalition, which he appreciated.
“He basically let the Senate work the Senate, which is good,” he said. “He did the right thing on this one right now.”
Capito said the short-term solution allows lawmakers time to focus on other legislative matters.
“We need to get to work on a longer-term funding bill that delivers critical resources to our military, veterans, seniors, and working families,” she said in a news release.
Jenkins — who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and the opportunity to run against Manchin in the general election — blamed Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Democrats for the shutdown.
“This is no way to govern, and to be frank, we never should have been in this situation in the first place. Senator Chuck Schumer and his Democrat leadership, including Sen. Joe Manchin, acted irresponsibly by putting amnesty for illegal immigrants before our children,” he said. “The people of West Virginia will not accept Sen. Manchin’s amnesty deal, and I have not and will not cater to the liberal wing of the Democrat party.”
Manchin was one of five Democrats who voted for the continuing resolution Friday and serves on Schumer’s Senate leadership team.
McKinley also took a shot at Senate Democrats, saying legislators were close to reaching a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before Friday’s shutdown.
“Now that the government will reopen, it’s time to go back to the table and resume our negotiations on a reasonable bipartisan deal to address the DACA issue, fix our broken immigration system and find a long-term deal to fund our government for the rest of the year,” he said in a press release.
Mooney said on MetroNews “Talkline” lawmakers should vote on appropriations bills rather than pass short-term resolutions.
Republicans said they will debate an immigration bill, which will include the 700,000 “dreamers” who are living in the United States illegally as they were brought to the country as children.
Manchin said any immigration legislation will also include changes regarding border security.
“I don’t know any Democrats or Republicans that are rational that haven’t come to an agreement that we need border security. That means there are going to be some more wall built, but there is going to be all other things done, too,” he said.
Manchin and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., were among the last senators to vote Monday because they were meeting with the president to talk about an immigration deal.
Essential government operations, such as the Social Security Administration, remained open during the government shutdown while nonessential operations like national parks were closed.
The West Virginia National Guard put around 1,000 guardsmen on furlough Monday afternoon because of the government shutdown. All National Guard employees will report to their posts Tuesday as a result of the continuing resolution going into effect.