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Shutdown nears record: Why these Republicans have crossed party lines to reopen the government

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Union leaders staged two rallies in Washington Thursday to bring attention to federal workers who are going without paychecks. (Jan. 10)
AP

WASHINGTON – As the federal government shutdown barrels toward the longest in history Saturday, a handful of Republicans have crossed party lines to vote with Democrats to reopen shuttered agencies.

The question becomes, how many more might join them?

President Donald Trump continues to crow about the unwavering support he says he has from Republicans to keep parts of the government closed until Democrats agree to fund a border wall.

“There is GREAT unity with the Republicans in the House and Senate, despite the Fake News Media working in overdrive to make the story look otherwise,” the president tweeted Thursday.

But hours later a few more Republicans defected.

Eight House Republicans voted Wednesday to fund the Treasury Department where the IRS is gearing up for tax season. Ten voted Thursday to reopen the agencies that dispense food stamps, run agriculture assistance programs and inspect food and drugs. A dozen Republicans backed continuing funding for the departments of housing and transportation. 

GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., dismissed Thursday’s defections as “no surprises” and said that he wasn’t worried about losing support from his caucus.

“Our members want to secure the border. Obviously there are a few that aren’t there,” Scalise said during a briefing with reporters. “The vast majority of our conference strongly supports securing the border and strongly supports what the president is doing.”

Democrats, who control the House, will continue to bring up legislation Friday to try to complete funding for the nine departments and several smaller agencies whose budgets ran out Dec. 22.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will not even consider the bills in his chamber because Trump won’t sign them.

The group of eight House Republicans who voted for all the bills so far includes:

  • One who represents more of the southern border than any other member of Congress: Texas Rep. Will Hurd.
  • Two who publicly refused to vote for Trump: New York Rep. John Katko and Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler.
  • Three who represent the only House districts won by Hillary Clinton that Republicans still hold: Hurd, Katko and Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

Most have been willing to buck their party in the past, including on high-profile issues such as opposing GOP efforts to get rid of Obamacare.

But the group also includes lawmakers like New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has been a rising star in the GOP; Oregon Rep. Greg Walden who represents a district that Trump won by 19 percentage points; and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, one of the most senior members of the House who has consistently voted with his party on national security issues.

Four other House Republicans – Rodney Davis of Illinois, Peter King of New York, Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Steve Stivers of Ohio – voted for some of the outstanding spending bills.

Here’s a look at the eight who joined Democrats on all three bills:

‘Costly and unnecessary’

Fitzpatrick, a former FBI special agent and federal prosecutor representing a swing district in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, was first elected in 2016 on a promise of bipartisanship.

In his first term, he sided with Democrats on about one-quarter of the votes that split the two parties, including opposing Republicans’ Obamacare alternative. Fitzpatrick’s re-election bid, which he won with 51 percent of the vote, was endorsed by the AFL-CIO and former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, who advocates for gun control.

“Shutdowns are costly and unnecessary, and I will work with both sides to find a solution,” Fitzpatrick said last week.

Shutdowns are ‘ludicrous’

Herrera Beutler’s 52.7 percent victorylast fall was the fifth-term representative’sclosest race in her southwest Washington state district.

She’s called the shutdown showdown “ludicrous.”

“There’s a solution at hand, if politicians grow up, stop worrying about which side is ‘winning’ the political fight (spoiler alert: they’re both losing), and deliver results,” she recently wrote.

Herrera Beutler, the daughter of a Mexican-American and the great-granddaughter of immigrants, was one of a few Republicans in 2016 to back a Democratic effort to encourage the Defense Department to welcome the service of some illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children.

In the 2016 presidential election, Herrera Beutler voted for Paul Ryan instead of Trump. She announced her decision after the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood videotape in which Trump bragged about groping women by their genitals.

Expensive and ineffective

Hurd has squeaked by in his three elections in a district dominated by Mexican-Americans. After opposing the border wall, Hurd won re-election in November by fewer than 1,000 votes.

Hurd, whose Texas district encompasses nearly half of the border with Mexico, has called a wall “the most expensive, least effective way to do border security.”

“The thing that I’ve been hearing is they need technology, they need additional manpower,” Hurd, a former undercover CIA agent, told NPR Thursday.

Fulfilling a promise

Katko was re-elected to a third term with 53 percent, his closest race yet in a predominately rural, swing district in New York that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

Katko crosses party lines more often than most members of the House and is unafraid to do so on big issues. In addition to opposing the GOP health care bill in 2017, he took the rare step last week of voting for Democrats’ rules for governing the House. Katko did so because Democrats included changes to make it easier to advance bills with broad bipartisan support.

Katko said his votes to fund the shuttered government agencies are consistent with a promise he made when he first ran for office “that I would never vote to shut down the government or to continue a government shutdown.”

“I am in favor of securing our borders,” Katko tweeted, “but shutting down the government is never the answer.”

Shutdowns are ‘stupid’

Kinzinger was first elected to Congress from Illinois in the tea party-fueled election wave of 2010 that helped Republicans win the House. But he’s accused tea party Republicans of making it harder for others to win competitive districts. 

Kinzinger belongs to groups aimed at bringing together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to forge bipartisan compromises. In 2015, he joined with Democrats to fund the Department of Homeland Security without including a GOP amendment to undo President Barack Obama’s protections for young undocumented immigrants. The amendment would have kept the funding bill from passing the Senate.

“I think shutdowns are stupid,” Kinzinger recently told CNN. “I think it’s the dumbest way to do government in the world.”

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  • Tom Miller, Covington citzen and father of a government employee, stands and chants with protestors of the government shutdow.  Government employees, National Treasury  Employee Unions members and citizens gather in Covington, KY outside of the IRS building to protest the government shutdown on Jan, 10, 2019.1 of 18
  • Gregory Simpkins, president of AFGE local 778 and Bertrice Sanders, Social Security Administration Roseville office employee protest the government shutdown outside of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit, Jan. 10, 2019.2 of 18
  • Social worker, Pam Harrison holds a sign protesting the government shutdown at the James V. Hansen Federal Building on in Ogden, Utah. Jan 19, 2019.3 of 18
  • Internal Revenue Service worker Christine Helquist looks on during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building in Ogden, Utah, JAn. 10, 2019.4 of 18
  • Andrew Minton holds a sign featuring U.S. Forest Service icon Smokey Bear saying Only you can prevent forest fires. No seriously, I've been furloughed at an organized rally to protest the federal government shutdown in Washington D.C. Jan. 8, 2019.5 of 18
  • Government employees, National Treasury  Employee Unions members and citizens gather in Covington, KY outside of the IRS building to protest the government shutdown, Jan, 10, 2019.6 of 18
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D, MD) speaks at a rally organized to protest the federal government shutdown in Washington D.C. Jan. 10, 2019.7 of 18
  • Lutfiyya Dean holds a sign reading we want to work at a rally protesting the federal government shutdown on Jan. 10, 2019.8 of 18
  • Federal workers Rachel Schoenian, Polly Fairfield and Jenna Larkin hold signs at a rally protesting the federal government shutdown in Washington, DA. Jan. 10, 2019.9 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.10 of 18
  • Kathryn Gilson and Sean Ghazala furloughed federal employees who work for the National Park Service and are facing missing their first paychecks  during a press conference with union leaders and immigration advocates in Staten Island, New York, jan, 10, 2019.11 of 18
  • Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza,  in Chicago, Jan. 10, 2019.12 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.13 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.14 of 18
  • Union members and other federal employees rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Jan. 10, 2019 at AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington.15 of 18
  • Rev. Jesse Jackson, joins government workers during a rally at Federal Plaza, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago. The partial government shutdown continues to drag on with hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job or working without pay as the border wall fight persists.16 of 18
  • Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago.17 of 18
  • Anthony Jernigan, a Coast Guard environmental protection specialist, held a sign that said A wall, a wall! Our country for a wall!?! in Washington, D.C. on Thursday as federal workers rallied for their jobs.18 of 18

then-youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

In November, Stefanik was re-elected to a third term in her upstate New York district with 56 percent of the vote, after including a shot of Trump campaigning with her in one of her campaign ads. She was also in charge ofrecruiting candidates for House Republicans for last year’s midterms. But after the election, Stefanik took her party to task for not doing enough to help elect women and minorities.

Stefanik said she’s backed bills to fund shuttered government agencies because “I oppose government shutdowns and in Congress have consistently voted to keep the government open.”

Taking the ‘poison out of politics’

Upton’s re-election bid for a 17th term was his closest ever, winning with just about half the votes in his southwestern corner of Michigan.

Although Upton helped organize a “Tuesday Lunch Bunch” for Republicans to discuss a centrist agenda, his voting record has been mostly conservative, according to Congressional Quarterly. 

But after his close re-election, Upton called for looking beyond the labels of Democrat and Republican to “take this poison out of politics.”

On the government shutdown, Upton said he will continue to work with others to both fully fund the government and secure the border. 

“Much work remains,” he tweeted.

Empathy for federal workers

Walden is the only Republican in Congress from Oregon, representing a district that Trump won by 19 percentage points. Although his bid for a 12th term wasn’t close, his 57 percent win was his smallest general election victory.

Walden led the campaign arm of House Republicans in the 2014 and 2016 elections and votes with Republicans more than 90 percent of the time. But as the new Congress convened last week, Walden said he looked forward “to reaching across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions.”

Of his votes to reopen parts of the government, Walden said he has empathy for federal workers and their families caught up in the impasse.

“We know not many people can afford to miss a paycheck,” Walden said.

Contributing: Eliza Collins.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks about her oath of office as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Susan Walsh, APVice President Mike Pence, left, White House legislative affairs aide Ja’Ron Smith, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, second row left, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and others, walk down the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office building, on the White House complex, after a meeting with staff members of House and Senate leadership, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Washington. Alex Brandon, APPresident Donald J. Trump holds a news conference beside US Vice President Mike Pence, left,, Republican Representative from Louisiana Steve Scalise (2-R) and House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. President Trump discussed a variety of topics, particularly his meeting with Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders for negotiations on the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. A partial shutdown of the government continues since Congress and Trump failed to strike a deal on border security before a 22 December 22, 2018 funding deadline. Michael Reynolds, EPA-EFESenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is met by reporters as he arrives at the Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown, as Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, are at odds with President Donald Trump on spending for his border wall, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. J. Scott Applewhite, AP

  • An empty entrance line is seen as signs hang on the doors of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture indicating that the museum is closed because of the partial government shutdown in Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2019. A cornered President Donald Trump will hold talks with congressional leaders Wednesday over his demand for a US-Mexico border wall, with his options running out for ending a prolonged partial government shutdown over the impasse. Trump gave a nine-minute prime-time address Tuesday night to make the case for his signature domestic policy idea, but made no concessions to opposition Democrats, who have rejected funding for the project. 1 of 44
  • Members of the US Secret Service Uniformed Division patrol outside of the White House in Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2019, on the 18th day of the partial government shutdown.2 of 44
  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is chased by members of the media after he returned to the U.S. Capitol from a meeting at the White House Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House negotiating border security funding and government shutdown, calling it a total waste of time. 3 of 44
  • Passengers wait in a Transportation Security Administration line at JFK airport on Jan. 09, 2019 in New York City. Its been reported that hundreds of TSA screeners and agents have called in sick from their shifts from a number of major airports as the partial government shutdown continues. Employees of the TSA, whose job it is to keep airlines safe, are being forced to work without knowing when their next paycheck is coming.4 of 44
  • U.S. Senate Minoirty Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) returns to the U.S. Capitol from a meeting at the White House January 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. 5 of 44
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, listens as Vice President Mike Pence, right, speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. 6 of 44
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., holds his notes as he talks with reporters following a meeting with Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.7 of 44
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks about her oath of office as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. 8 of 44
  • President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to the media after a Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington.9 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., listens as President Donald Trump talks to the media after a Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington.10 of 44
  • A Closed sign is seen during a news conference after a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. House Democrats gathered to discuss the Democratic agenda as the partial government shutdown enters day 19.  11 of 44
  • Activists hold a lit FAKE CRISIS sign as they stage a protest outside the White House in response to U.S. President Donald Trumps prime time address to the nation Jan. 8, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump urged Congress to fund $5.7 billion for a border wall.12 of 44
  • The Washington skyline is seen on day 19 of a partial government shutdown on the morning after President Donald Trump used a prime-time TV address from the Oval Office to urge congressional Democrats to relent on their opposition to his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. From left are the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.13 of 44
  • The entrance to Fort Point National Historic Site, a masonry seacoast fortification located on the southern side of the Golden Gate Bride, a popular tourist site is closed in San Francisco, Calif. on Jan. 8, 2019. 14 of 44
  • Members of American Legion Post 416 watch President Donald Trump speak on Jan. 8, 2019 in Encinitas, California.  The president spoke in his first prime-time address from the Oval Office in an effort to build support for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.  15 of 44
  • People walk past a sign announcing that New York funds are keeping the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open for visitors on Jan. 5, 2019, in New York, as the US government shutdown enters its third week. 16 of 44
  • Vice President Mike Pence, left, White House legislative affairs aide Ja'Ron Smith, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, second row left, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, and others, walk down the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office building, on the White House complex, after a meeting with staff members of House and Senate leadership, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Washington.17 of 44
  • The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum is closed during the partial government shutdown, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 in Washington.18 of 44
  • Workmen from the commercial cleanup company 1-800-GOT-JUNK clean up trash on The Ellipse, south of the White House, in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. As the company donates its resources to clean up, US President Donald J. Trump is scheduled to meet at the White House with congressional leadership in hopes of ending the partial government shutdown now in its 12th day.  19 of 44
  • Emma James, right, and co-worker Vincent Cuenca demonstrate outside the Federal Center on Goodfellow Boulevard, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 in St. Louis.  James is a processor in the multifamily housing division. Cuenta processes payments to FEMA contractors. 20 of 44
  • President Donald J. Trump holds a news conference beside US Vice President Mike Pence, left,, Republican Representative from Louisiana Steve Scalise (2-R) and House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. President Trump discussed a variety of topics, particularly his meeting with Congressional Democratic and Republican leaders for negotiations on the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. A partial shutdown of the government continues since Congress and Trump failed to strike a deal on border security before a 22 December 22, 2018 funding deadline. 21 of 44
  • Volunteer Alexandra Degen cleans a restroom at Joshua Tree National Park on Jan. 4, 2019 in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Volunteers with 'Friends of Joshua Tree National Park' have been cleaning bathrooms and trash at the park as the park is drastically understaffed during the partial government shutdown. Campgrounds and some roads have been closed at the park due to safety concerns. 22 of 44
  • Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi returns to the US Capitol after a meeting with US President Donald Trump over the ongoing partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Jan. 4, 2019. Though Democrats called the meeting 'contentious,' President Trump said the meeting was 'productive'. 23 of 44
  • Signs announce the visitor center at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley, Iowa, is closed, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, as the partial government shutdown continues. 24 of 44
  • Brandon Torres, center, the Branch Chief of Emergency Services at Grand Canyon National Park, directs guests in the park on Jan. 4, 2019. 25 of 44
  • A sign blocks a snowed in walk way at Grand Canyon National Park on Jan. 4, 2019. The park was staffed at minimum capacity due to the government shutdown but retained much of its services due to an executive order issued by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to run the park with state funds in the event of a shutdown.26 of 44
  • The Capitol building is visible as a man throws garbage away during a partial government shutdown on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Trash cans on the Mall are not being emptied during the shutdown.27 of 44
  • A sign is posted on a fence near an entrance to the Bunker Hill Monument, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, in Boston. The historic site, erected to commemorate the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill, and run by the National Park Service, was closed Monday due to a partial federal government shutdown. The federal government is expected to remain partially closed past Christmas Day in a protracted standoff over President Donald Trump's demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico.28 of 44
  • The empty U.S. Capitol Rotunda is seen in Washington during a partial government shutdown Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. Both sides in the long-running fight over funding President Donald Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall appear to have moved toward each other, but a shutdown of one-fourth of the federal government entered Christmas without a clear resolution in sight. 29 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, center, is surrounded by reporters after leaving the Senate chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. 30 of 44
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is met by reporters as he arrives at the Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown, as Democratic lawmakers, and some Republicans, are at odds with President Donald Trump on spending for his border wall, in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018. 31 of 44
  • Jamie Parrish, from Minneapolis, takes a selfie in front of the closed sign at the National Archives, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 in Washington. The House and Senate are gaveling back in for a rare weekend session amid a partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump's demand for billions of dollars for a border wall. 32 of 44
  • A sign alerts visitors to the closure of the White House Visitor Center on the first day of a partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. 33 of 44
  • The US Capitol on the first morning of a partial government shutdown in Washington, DC on Dec. 22, 2018. Earlier in the week, President Trump rejected a Senate-passed continuing resolution to fund the federal government because it did not include money for his border wall. Though President Trump said he was 'proud' to shut the government down, lawmakers will meet again today to negotiate a way around the stalemate.34 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell, center, is followed by members of the news media as he walks from the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Dec. 21, 2018. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Feb. 8, 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.35 of 44
  • Vice President Mike Pence, right, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, center, and Senior Advisor to US President Donald J. Trump, Jared Kushner, left, walk from the House of Representatives to the Senate at the US Capitol on Friday.36 of 44
  • Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) (C) returns to his office after votes in the U.S. Capitol, Friday. The U.S. Senate considered a budget bill passed Thursday by the House of Representatives that would fund the federal government and includes more than $500 million for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Senate is unlikely to pass the bill with the wall funding, moving the government closer to a partial shut down just days before the Christmas holiday.37 of 44
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., leave after talking to reporters as a revised spending bill is introduced in the House that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, on Dec. 20, 2018.38 of 44
  • Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (C) speak to the media, Thursday, as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new budget resolution to avert a government shutdown.39 of 44
  • Republican Majority Whip from California Kevin McCarthy (C) leaves the Capitol, Thursday, for the White House to negotiate a budget vote to avert a government shutdown in the US Capitol. The Senate passed a continuing resolution on Wednesday, to keep the government open until February 2019. Others are not identified members of the media.40 of 44
  • Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Republican Richard Shelby (C) speaks to members of the news media shortly before leaving to attend a meeting at the White House held by US President Donald J. Trump, on Capitol Hill, Friday. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through 08 February 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.41 of 44
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) makes a statement to the press after a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday.42 of 44
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., center, accompanied by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center right, speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump on border security.43 of 44
  • Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell arrives at the Senate Carriage entrance upon returning from the White House where he attended a meeting held by President Donald J. Trump, on Friday. President Trump rejected a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through February 8, 2019, threatening a partial shutdown unless funding is included for his border wall.44 of 44

 

 

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