Manchin: McConnell’s promise broke impasse

Continuing resolution ends shutdown, funds CHIP

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left, accompanied by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, right, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday after senators reached an agreement to advance a bill ending government shutdown. (AP Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge that the plight of the Dreamers would be addressed was enough to get enough Senate Democrats to vote ending the impasse that shut down the federal government, a West Virginia senator said.

Sen. Joe Manchin, who on Friday voted with the Republicans to fund the government through Feb. 8, was among a coalition of 17 Democrats and Republicans that started meeting after the vote on Friday. The group grew over the weekend to 25 senators who worked for a compromise ending the stalemate, Manchin, speaking to West Virginia reporters by telephone, said.

McConnell, R-Ky., on Sunday pledged there would be a vote on the Dreamers, of which there are about 700,000 in America and 154 in West Virginia. It turned the tide, Manchin said.

The Senate on Monday voted 81-18 on legislation that ended the three-day shutdown and funded the government through Feb. 8. The legislation, which goes back to the House for a vote, also extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, provided funding for community health centers, border security and miners pensions, and the military, Manchin said.

The key was the promise from McConnell on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the undocumented Dreamers who were brought as young children, Manchin said. Deportations could begin March 5 if no decision is made, he said.

The public pressure on the deportation of 700,000 youth “will be pretty substantial, if not overwhelming,” Manchin said.

“The pressure is going to be pretty hard on somebody,” he said.

How the Senate operates has to change, Manchin said. Two people can’t determine what is or isn’t taken up, he said.

“This is not the way to run the greatest country on Earth,” he said.

Also, President Trump had no contact with the bipartisan group, to which Manchin said was the best course of action to take.

“He did the right thing on this one,” Manchin said.

Manchin on Friday was joined by Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama and Claire McCaskill of Missouri who didn’t vote with the party.

Manchin is the only Democrat in the West Virginia congressional delegation and is running for re-election this year. Trump, a Republican, won West Virginia in 2016.

Among those running for the Republican nomination for Senate is Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who on Monday blamed Senate Democrats who “chose on Friday to vote to shut down the government, but today, they decided to stop holding children’s healthcare, our military and the nation hostage.”

“Sen. Chuck Schumer and his Democrat leadership, including Sen. Joe Manchin, acted irresponsibly by putting amnesty for illegal immigrants before our children. 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,” Jenkins said. “I will be voting for a second time to fund our government, support our troops and secure healthcare funding for the 21,391 West Virginia children who depend on CHIP. I will not support amnesty for those who came to this country in defiance of our immigration laws.”

Blaming a party or a person for the shutdown didn’t accomplish anything, Manchin said. No one in the bipartisan group blamed anyone, he said.

“That didn’t fix anything,” Manchin said.

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