HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The partial government shutdown has been going on for two weeks. It’s lasted into the new year and a new Congress.
Alabama U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby is a key part of the discussions, but he doesn’t see a quick resolution and Alabama’s GOP-dominated House delegation opposes one, unless there’s more money for a border wall.
Shelby chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and had all six outstanding spending bills passed by the Senate last year.
Then, President Donald Trump pushed for more money for a border wall and things got stuck.
Shelby told reporters Thursday the shutdown could last for months and months, though he hopes it won’t, the New York Times reported.
House Democrats took power Thursday and brought up the same Senate spending bills that passed last year.
Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, called for their passage.
“By shutting down the government yet again – and retreating to our respective political corners – we are not doing our job and tens of thousands of our constituents are paying the price,” Jones said. “More than 5,000 federal workers across Alabama were furloughed or worked unpaid through the holidays.”
The new majority passed the bills aimed at ending the shutdown Thursday, but with no more wall money and without the support of all six Alabama Republicans in the House delegation, including U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville. He said the measure did not include funding for agriculture programs as in prior bill, like rural broadband, and it failed to provide enough border spending.
“So instead of catering to voters who don’t even want to have a border,” he argued during Thursday’s House debate. “I believe the House Democrats should vote no on this bill, and the Democrat majority should negotiate an end to the government shutdown.”
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, voted in support of the appropriations bills Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks also voted “no," saying the bills lacked support from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"The Socialist Democrat spending bill was a whimsical, obstructionist nonstarter,” Brooks said. “It was so bad Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not even allow a floor vote on it and, even if he did, President Trump would kill it with a veto.
"$25 billion is needed to build the wall. Republicans have compromised down to $5 billion. Socialist Democrats should accept our compromise offer, move on, and save American lives!”
President Trump said Friday he’d consider declaring an emergency and using defense money to build the wall.