Shelby: Shutdown could last ‘long time’

Published 2:54 am Tuesday, January 1, 2019

In an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said the ongoing government shutdown could last a “long, long time,” adding that negotiating points could totally change Thursday when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.

“Our negotiations are at an impasse at the moment,” Shelby said. “I wish it were not so. But we’ve got to move away from the blame game. Blaming the president, blaming the Democrats, Pelosi and Schumer and others, and get back to doing what we’re sent there to do: to fund the government. That’s been my mandate. That’s what we’ve been working hard on this year in a bipartisan way on the Appropriations Committee.

“But right now we’re at a standoff, and I think that’s not good for the Senate, the House, or America,” Shelby said. “We can do better and we’ve got to figure out a way to get to yes. If we blame each other, this could last a long, long time.”

The government shut down that began Dec. 22 pertains to funding for fiscal year 2019, which began Oct. 1, 2018.  On Dec. 19, the Senate unanimously passed a continuing resolution (extending funding levels in place in FY 2018), but Trump said he would not sign a bill that did not include border wall funding, reversing course on previous statements.. The House passed a version of the continuing resolution on Dec. 20 that included $5 billion for the border wall and $8 billion in disaster funds, but Senate negotiations did not lead to agreement on changes to the continuing resolution. 

Shelby said Sunday he has previously tried to work a compromise between President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have funded border security over the next two years.

“I do believe that the president would like to work to get to yes,” Shelby said. “I think Sen. Schumer … would like to fund the government. It’s a question of how do we get off the blame game and we get to serious negotiations.

“Its’ not a question of who wins or loses. Nobody’s gonna win this kind of game. Nobody wins in a shutdown. We all lose and we kind of look silly.”

Shelby told host Margaret Brennan that he had lunch with the president and vice president last Saturday, and that some suggestions for negotiations were made.

“But right now, we’re at an impasse,” he said.

When Congress convenes after the New Year’s holiday, the Democrats will control the House of Representatives.

“After January the third when the Democrats take control of the House, the political equation will change,” Shelby said. “You’ll have a Democratic House, a Republican president and a Republican Senate. So we’re gonna have to negotiate. I think that we ought to see what do the Democrats really want. Can we do it? And can we reach there and we’ve got to show them what we want is to secure the borders.”