READ THE DOCS: GOP House Judiciary Committee Sends Scorching Letter to DHS Sec Mayorkas Demanding Answers on Border Crisis

BIDEN: GOP In Midst of ‘Mini Revolution’

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Biden said Wednesday it appears the GOP is going through a “mini-revolution” amid a public rift among House members loyal to former President Trump and those such as Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) who have been sharply critical of him.

“It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for. And they’re in the midst of significant sort of mini-revolution going on in the Republican Party,” Biden told reporters after giving remarks on aid for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve been a Democrat for a long time. We’ve gone through periods where we’ve had internal fights, disagreements. I don’t remember any like this,” he added. “We badly need a Republican Party. We need a two-party system. It’s not healthy to have a one-party system. And I think the Republicans are further away from trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for than I thought they would be at this point.”

Biden’s comments come as House Republicans have turned on Cheney for her repeated denunciations of Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), along with many rank-and-file Republicans, are moving to oust Cheney from her role as the No. 3 GOP House member.

Trump on Wednesday endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to replace Cheney in House GOP leadership. Stefanik, a vocal Trump ally, is viewed as the likely pick should the caucus vote to remove Cheney or should she step down. 

Biden earlier Wednesday was asked during a visit to a local restaurant about the drama surrounding Cheney and responded: “I don’t understand the Republicans.”

He and other administration officials have been adamant that they will try to work with Republicans on policy where there is mutual agreement.

The president is expected to meet next week with McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) alongside Democratic leaders, and he will separately host Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and other lawmakers for talks on his infrastructure proposal.

THE NOMINEE: Trump Secures Republican Nomination For Second Term As Crowd Chants ‘Twelve More Years!’

CHARLOTTE — President Donald Trump on Monday surpassed the necessary number of votes needed to secure his party’s nomination for re-election during day one of the Republican National Convention.

As the totals were announced, the president smiled as a crowd chanted, “twelve more years.”

After thanking his supporters, the president launched into a new attack at those calling for mail in voting to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the greatest scam in the history of politics, I think, and I’m talking about beyond our nation. They act like they are aggrieved by saying this, saying such a horrible thing, we are not patriotic by saying this. No,” Trump said. “We voted during World War I. We voted at the voting booth during World War II. The pandemic we are doing very well — and people know how to handle it — look at the crowds. They are doing very well. It’s very safe.”

Earlier Monday, the convention renominated Vice President Mike Pence, who also delegates in person.

“The choice in this election has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher,” Pence said. “We’re going to make American great again. Again.”

Despite the scaled back theme of the convention, enthusiasm was high amongst the president’s supporters.

With just 336 delegates participating in a roll-call vote from a Charlotte Convention Center ballroom, Party Chair Ronna McDaniel commented on the social distanced style of the convention before she began the proceedings: “We are obviously disappointed we could not hold this event in the same way we had originally planned,” but thanked Charlotte city officials for allowing the convention to move forward.

During her speech, McDaniel accused the president’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, of embracing a radical left agenda and scoffed at the DNC’s efforts to present Biden as the nominee of empathy and kindness.

“The truth is there’s only one person who has empathized with everyday Americans and actually been fighting for them every single day over the past four years, and that’s President Donald J. Trump,” she said.

After the initial Charlotte festivities are over, most of the GOP convention will move to Washington, D.C. where celebrity Trump supporters and members of the Trump family will rally around the president and shift focus to the president’s accomplishments during his first term in office.

The convention will also include everyday Americans who campaign officials say have helped implement and who’s lives have been positively impacted by the president’s policies.

COVID: Trump Wars With Senate GOP Over Trillion Dollar Package

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insisted “good things” were underway on the next COVID-19 aid package Monday as he met with Republican congressional leaders, but new divisions between the Senate GOP and the White House posed fresh challenges as the crisis worsened and emergency relief was soon expiring.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been prepared to roll out the $1 trillion package in a matter of days. But the administration criticized more virus testing money and interjected other priorities that could complicate quick passage.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Trump said as the meeting got underway.

But the president acknowledged the “big flare up” of rising caseloads and deaths in the states. “Unfortunately, this is something that’s very tough,” he said.

Lawmakers were returning to a Capitol still off-limits to tourists, another sign of the nation’s difficulty containing the coronavirus. Rather than easing, the pandemic’s devastating cycle is rising again, leaving Congress little choice but to engineer another costly rescue. Businesses are shutting down again, many schools will not fully reopen and jobs are disappearing, all while federal aid will soon expire.

Without a successful federal strategy, lawmakers are trying to draft one.

“We have to end this virus,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday on MSNBC.

Pelosi said any attempt by the White House to block money for testing “goes beyond ignorance.”

The political stakes are high for both parties before the November election, and even more so for the nation, which now has registered more coronavirus infections and a higher death count of 140,500 than any other country.

McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy huddled with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Mnuchin vowed passage by month’s end, as earlier benefits expire, and said he expected the fresh $1 trillion jolt of business tax breaks and other aid would have a “big impact” on the struggling economy.

Mnuchin said he’s preparing to start talks with Democrats. He and Meadows were headed to the Hill later to brief lawmakers.

“We can’t pass the bill in the Senate without the Democrats and we’re going to talk to them as well,” McConnell agreed.

The package from McConnell had been quietly crafted behind closed doors for weeks and was expected to include $75 billion to help schools reopen, reduced unemployment benefits and a fresh round of direct $1,200 cash payments to Americans, and a sweeping five-year liability shield against coronavirus lawsuits.

But as the administration was panning some $25 billion in proposed new funds for testing and tracing, said one Republican familiar with the discussions. Trump was also reviving his push for a payroll tax break, which was being seriously considered, said another Republican. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks.

Trump insisted again Sunday that the virus would “disappear,” but the president’s view did not at all match projections from the leading health professionals straining to halt the alarming U.S. caseload and death toll.

“It’s not going to magically disappear,” said a somber McConnell, R-Ky., last week during a visit to a hospital in his home state to thank front-line workers.

McConnell also faces divisions from some in his ranks who oppose more spending, and he is straining to keep the package at $1 trillion.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned Monday his side will block any effort from McConnell that falls short.

“We will stand together again if we must,” Schumer said in a letter to colleagues.

The New York Democrat is reviving his strategy from the last virus aid bill that forced Republicans to the negotiating table after McConnell’s original bill was opposed by Democrats. This time, the House has already approved Pelosi’s sweeping $3 trillion effort, giving Democrats momentum heading into negotiations.

Trump raised alarms on Capitol Hill when he suggested last month at a rally in Oklahoma that he wanted to slow virus testing. Some of Trump’s GOP allies wanted new money to help test and track the virus to contain its spread. Senate Democrats were investigating why the Trump administration had not yet spent some of $25 billion previously allocated.

The payroll tax break Trump wanted also divided his party because it historically has been used used to fund Social Security and Medicare. Cutting it only adds to the nation’s rising debt load at a time when conservatives are wary of any new spending. Some Republicans also see it as an insufficient response to millions of out-of-work Americans.

This would be the fifth virus aid package, after the $2.2 trillion bill passed in March, the largest U.S. intervention of its kind.

While many GOP hoped the virus would ease and economy rebound, it’s become clear more aid is needed as the first round of relief is running out.

A federal $600-a-week boost to regular unemployment benefits would expire at the end of the month. So, too, would the federal ban on evictions from millions of rental units.

With 17 straight weeks of unemployment claims topping 1 million — usually about 200,000 — many households are facing a cash crunch and losing employer-backed health insurance.

Despite flickers of an economic upswing as states eased stay-at-home orders in May and June, the jobless rate remained at double digits, higher than it ever was in the last decade’s Great Recession.

Pelosi’s bill, approved in May, includes $75 billion for testing and tracing to try to get a handle on the virus spread, funnels $100 billion to schools to safely reopen and calls for $1 trillion to be sent to cash-strapped states to pay essential workers and prevent layoffs. The measure would give cash stipends to Americans, and bolster rental and mortgage and other safety net protections.

In the two months since Pelosi’s bill passed, the U.S. had 50,000 more deaths and 2 million more infections.

“If we don’t invest the money now, it will be much worse,” Pelosi said.


Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Andrew Taylor contributed to the contents of this report.

DEMS PUSH BACK: House passes electoral reform bill by 234-193 vote

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — House Democrats passed a sweeping electoral reform bill in a 234-193 party-line vote on Friday.

The For The People Act, better known as H.R. 1 — spearheaded by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) — aims to expand voting rights, implement new ethics rules and increase transparency in elections, according to its proponents.

The bill includes provisions to enable automatic voter registration, strengthen resources to stave off foreign threats on elections and make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.

Democrats unveiled the legislation shortly after the start of the 116th Congress, underscoring its importance in their agenda. Supporters of the bill argued it’s necessary in order to tackle corruption and dark money in politics. Under the legislation, the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which got rid of some limits on corporate and union political spending, would be overturned and coordination between super PACs and candidates would be prohibited.

Freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) lamented that Washington is home to 11,000 registered lobbyists — “25 lobbyists per member of Congress,” he said — and recounted a lobbyist dinner he attended on one of his first nights in Washington.

“I thought it was going to be a chance to talk about some of the issues that I hear from families in our community,” he said. “Imagine my surprise when the only thing these lobbyists wanted to talk about was what would benefit their clients.”

“It’s far too easy for well-financed lobbyists to crowd out the needs of our families in favor of their clients,” he continued.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that enactment of the package is vital if Congress is to restore the voters’ trust in the idea that Congress is working in the public interest.

“It is fundamental to our democracy that people believe — they believe — that actions taken here will be in their interest,” she said. “That is what this legislation will help to restore.”

Portions of the bill appear to directly take aim at President Trump, including language requiring the president and vice president and candidates for those positions to disclose a decade’s worth of their tax returns.

But Republicans have blasted the bill as a power grab by Democrats, arguing it limits free speech and overreaches on states rights. Top Republicans have also slammed Democrats for failing to work across the aisle on bipartisan reforms, with many saying there are provisions in the bill they could have supported.

Language that would create a 6-to-1 federal campaign match on small donations has been one of the most controversial for Republicans, who argue taxpayer dollars should not be used for campaign purposes.

“The most important bill that the democrat socialist majority has is to take more of your money and give it to the politicians who want to vote for this bill. How ironic,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.

“Now, even though H.R. 1 has such broad spectrum of where to go, it was referred to 10 committees —imagine that, 10 committees but 40 percent of this bill has not even been marked up.”

Provisions advocating for D.C. statehood, a prohibition on gerrymandering and language allowing federal workers to take up to six days of paid leave to work at polls also received strong pushback from the GOP.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vocally opposed the bill, which Republicans have dubbed the “Democrat Politician Protection Act,” asserting the measure is going nowhere in the upper chamber.

McConnell’s pushback played a key role in rallying all House Republicans against the bill and helping them remain on message, one senior GOP aide told The Hill.

“We really did unite everyone in opposition to this and pushed hard against it,” the source said. “Obviously, we’ll lose the vote, but I think there’s satisfaction among members that we had a cohesive and unified message against this. And working with McConnell and getting him engaged against this was huge.”

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The Hill’s Mike Lillis contributed to the contents of this report.

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BOMBSHELLS ON THE HILL: Cohen slams Trump during hearing as GOP attempts to assassinate his credibility

WASHINGTON (Fox News) — Michael Cohen, the former fixer about to begin a three-year prison term, completed his renunciation of President Trump during an explosive congressional hearing Wednesday that left no room for reconciliation – calling his former boss a racist, testifying he was aware of an adviser’s talks with WikiLeaks about stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign and alleging he oversaw an array of illicit schemes during the 10 years they worked together.

“He is a racist. He is a conman. And he is a cheat,” Cohen testified, setting the tone for the hearing. After outlining numerous alleged misdeeds by Trump, Cohen expressed regret and repeated the refrain “yet I continued to work for him.”

Yet Cohen stopped short of saying he had evidence that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia in 2016, asserting he had only “suspicions.” And Republicans on the House Oversight Committee repeatedly struck at Cohen’s credibility, pointing out that he is a convicted liar and suggesting he only turned on Trump after not landing a White House job.

“You’re behaving just like everyone else who got fired or didn’t get the job they wanted,” Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member on the committee, said. Cohen denied this to be the case.

The fiery testimony marked a remarkable turn for someone who once claimed he’d be willing to take a bullet for Trump.

Cohen came to the hearing with a slew of exhibits, including checks he says are proof for his previous claims that Trump organized hush-money payments to two women, including adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claimed affairs with Trump during the campaign. He accused Trump of being involved in a “criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.”

“I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later,” said Cohen, who worked as Trump’s personal lawyer.

He waded into the investigation over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, accusing Trump of knowing that an adviser, Roger Stone, was reaching out to WikiLeaks about the publication of stolen Democratic National Committee emails during the campaign. Trump has denied advance knowledge.

On Wednesday, Stone denied the claim, telling Fox News: “Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true.” WikiLeaks also released a statement saying, “WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has never had a telephone call with Roger Stone.”

Cohen did not claim Trump directed those communications. He specifically asserted that he lacks direct evidence of improper collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia.

“Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia,” Cohen testified. “I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.”

Still, Democrats pushed an unproven theory that Trump, along with his family, could be compromised by the Russians. “Is it possible the whole family is conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the election?” Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, asked Cohen. Wasserman led the committee when emails were hacked.

“Yes,” Cohen replied.

Under questioning from Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Cohen suggested the Southern District of New York could be investigating the president for other crimes. “Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?” Krishnamoorthi asked.

“Yes and again those are part of the investigation currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York,” Cohen said.

Cohen, under questioning from New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, claimed Trump reported inflated estimates of his assets to insurance companies.

Cohen said he began questioning his loyalty to Trump after the Trump-Putin summit in Helskini in 2018 and the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

The much-awaited hearing began with fireworks, as Republicans portrayed Cohen as a liar and unsuccessfully moved to postpone the hearing. In his opening statement, Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings acknowledged that Cohen “repeatedly lied in the past,” calling it an “important factor we need to weigh.” He said if Cohen doesn’t tell the truth, he’ll refer him to the Justice Department for prosecution.

But Cummings said the hearing is important for understanding the president’s past actions, saying “the days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are over.”

Jordan, the ranking member on the committee, ripped Democrats for calling Cohen to testify, accusing Democrats of holding the hearing so they can later try to impeach the president.

“The first announced witness for the 116th Congress is a guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress,” Jordan said.

Cohen admitted telling falsities in the past, but said he’s coming clean now: “I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man.” He said he would not ask for or accept a pardon from Trump.

Among other claims, Cohen on Wednesday pointed to an “unusual” episode in Trump Tower in approximately June 2016, when Donald Trump, Jr. supposedly whispered about a “meeting” in Trump’s ear — followed allegedly by Trump’s reply, “Ok, good. Let me know.”

According to Cohen, “nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval.”

“So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day,” he said.

That meeting has long been a subject of contention, with participants supposedly promised dirt on Clinton, despite subsequent claims that the meeting dealt instead with other topics. Trump has maintained that he did not know in advance about the meeting — backing up Trump Jr., who told the Senate Judiciary Committee the same thing in September 2017 and would face potential criminal liability if he were lying.

Cohen outlined a slew of other alleged misdeeds by Trump, including lying about his total assets to reduce his taxes and even trying to strong-arm academic officials into keeping his SAT scores and grades secret. And he repeatedly accused Trump of racism.

“While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way,” Cohen said. “And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. And yet I continued to work for him.”

Early Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Cohen was “lying in order to reduce his prison time,” and referred to published reports that Cohen had been disbarred by the New York State Supreme Court. The president was tweeting from Hanoi, Vietnam — where he is attending a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As the hearing began Wednesday, North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows interrupted to say Cohen’s prepared testimony was not received by the committee 24 hours in advance in violation of committee rules, calling for a postponement of the hearing.

“It was an intentional effort by this witness and his advisers to once again show his disdain for this body,” Meadows said. Cummings admitted the committee received the testimony “late last night.” The Democratic-controlled committee voted to reject the GOP call to postpone.

Cohen, under questioning from Republicans, admitted he spoke with Democratic leaders in Congress, including Cummings and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, before his testimony.

As for his future, Cohen would not rule out making money on a book or movie deal or as a paid television commentator. He said he would not rule out running for office in New York one day.

Wednesday’s hearing is one of three congressional hearings this week where Cohen is expected to testify against his former boss. He testified Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and on Thursday, Cohen appears before the House Intelligence Committee – though both are behind closed doors.

Trump’s presidential campaign blasted Cohen in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Michael Cohen is a felon, a disbarred lawyer, and a convicted perjurer, who lied to both Congress and the Special Counsel in a ‘deliberate and premeditated’ fashion according to the special counsel’s office,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “Now he offers what he says is evidence, but the only support for that is his own testimony, which has proven before to be worthless.”

Cohen was originally scheduled to report to jail on March 6 to begin serving a three-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other violations last year. He is now scheduled to report to jail May 6.

In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal. The charges against Cohen arose from two separate investigations – one by federal prosecutors in New York, and the other by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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Fox News’ Lillian LeCroy, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

 

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REPORT: McConnell open to bill that would prevent future government shutdowns

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he is open to legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns.

“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody and I hope they will be avoided. I’d be open to anything that we could agree on on a bipartisan basis that would make them pretty hard to occur again,” McConnell told reporters less than a week after the last partial shutdown ended.

The Senate GOP leader added that federal funding lapses were an example of “government dysfunction” and they should be “embarrassing.”

A growing number of senators say they would support legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns by automatically creating a continuing resolution (CR). But there are competing proposals in the Senate, with both Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introducing legislation.

Portman’s proposal would reduce funding by 1 percent after 120 days and again every subsequent 90 days if lawmakers haven’t reached a deal. Warner’s would withhold funding for the legislative branch and the Executive Office of the President in an attempt to motivate lawmakers to negotiate.

Congress faces another deadline to prevent a partial shutdown on Feb. 15. The 35-day funding lapse, which ended on Friday, was the longest in U.S. history and sparked considerable frustration on Capitol Hill.

But the idea of automatically creating a CR ran into backlash from prominent House Democrats on Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that he was “reticent” about legislation that would take Congress out of the decision-making process.

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The Hill’s Jordain Carney contributed to the contents of this report.

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NO WIN: Senate rejects rival Dem, GOP plans for reopening government

WASHINGTON (AP) — A splintered Senate swatted down competing Democratic and Republican plans for ending the 34-day partial government shutdown on Thursday, leaving President Donald Trump and Congress with no obvious formula for halting the longest-ever closure of federal agencies and the damage it is inflicting around the country.

In an embarrassment to Trump that could weaken his position whenever negotiations get serious, the Democratic proposal got two more votes than the GOP plan. There were six Republican defectors, including freshman Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who’s clashed periodically with the president.

There were faint signs that lawmakers on both sides were looking for ways to resolve their vitriolic stalemate. Moments after the votes, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., went to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

But Thursday was mostly a day for both parties, in conflicting ways, to show sympathy for unpaid federal workers while yielding no ground in their fight over Trump’s demand to build a border wall with Mexico.

The Senate first rejected a Republican plan reopening government through September and giving Trump the $5.7 billion he’s demanded for building segments of that wall, a project that he’d long promised Mexico would finance. The 50-47 vote for the measure fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.

Minutes later, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open padlocked agencies through Feb. 8 with no wall money. That was eight votes short. It was aimed at giving bargainers time to seek an accord while getting paychecks to 800,000 beleaguered government workers who are a day from going unpaid for a second consecutive pay period.

Flustered lawmakers said the results could be a reality check that would prod the start of talks. Throughout, the two sides have issued mutually exclusive demands that have blocked negotiations from even starting: Trump has refused to reopen government until Congress gives him the wall money, and congressional Democrats have rejected bargaining until he reopens government.

Thursday’s votes could “teach us that the leaders are going to have to get together and figure out how to resolve this,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader. He added, “One way or another we’ve got to get out of this. This is no win for anybody.”

For now, partisan potshots flowed freely.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of a “let them eat cake kind of attitude” after he said on television that he didn’t understand why unpaid civil servants were resorting to homeless shelters for food. Even as Pelosi offered to meet the president “anytime,” Trump stood firm, tweeting, “Without a Wall it all doesn’t work…. We will not Cave!” and no meetings were scheduled.

As the Senate debated the two dueling proposals, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Democratic plan would let that party’s lawmakers “make political points and nothing else” because Trump wouldn’t sign it. He called Pelosi’s stance “unreasonable” and said, “Senate Democrats are not obligated to go down with her ship.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the GOP plan for endorsing Trump’s proposal to keep the government closed until he got what he wants.

“A vote for the president’s plan is an endorsement of government by extortion,” Schumer said. “If we let him do it today, he’ll do it tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.′

Still smarting from its clash with Pelosi over the State of the Union, the White House closely monitored the Senate votes and Trump spoke with lawmakers throughout the day. He was waiting to see if many Democrats crossed over to back his plan, but West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin proved to be the only one.

Even so, there were suggestions of movement.

Vice President Mike Pence attended a lunch with GOP senators before the vote and heard from lawmakers eager for the standoff to end, participants said. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said their message to Pence was “Find a way forward.”

In consultation with their Senate counterparts, House Democrats were preparing a new border security package they planned to roll out Friday. Despite their pledge to not negotiate until agencies reopened, their forthcoming proposal was widely seen as a counteroffer to Trump. Pelosi expressed “some optimism that things could break loose pretty soon” in a closed-door meeting with other Democrats Wednesday evening, said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

The Democratic package was expected to include $5.7 billion, the same amount Trump wants for his wall, but use it instead for fencing, technology, personnel and other measures. In a plan the rejected Senate GOP plan mirrored, Trump on Saturday proposed to reopen government if he got his wall money. He also proposed to revamp immigration laws, including new restrictions on Central American minors seeking asylum in the U.S. and temporary protections for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

In another sign of hope, Thursday’s vote on the Democratic plan represented movement by McConnell. For weeks, he’d refused to allow a Senate vote on anything Trump wouldn’t sign and has let Trump and Democrats try reaching an accord. McConnell has a history of helping resolve past partisan standoffs, and his agreement to allow Thursday’s vote was seen by some as a sign he would become more forcefully engaged.

With the impacts of the shutdown becoming increasingly painful, however, lawmakers on both sides were trumpeting their willingness to compromise in the battle over border security and immigration issues, such as protection against deportation for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

“We can work this out,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

At a panel discussion held by House Democrats on the effects of the shutdown, union leaders and former Homeland Security officials said they worried about the long-term effects. “I fear we are rolling the dice,” said Tim Manning, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official. “We will be lucky to get everybody back on the job without a crisis to respond to.”

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Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram contributed to the contents of this report.

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