Anyone who dials the White House’s comments line during the government’s ongoing shutdown will reportedly be greeted by a recorded voicemail message of an unidentified woman explaining why basic government functions have temporarily been halted.
“Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today because congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate,” the woman says, according to The Hill.
“Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down,” she continues. “In the meantime, you can leave a comment for the president at www.whitehouse.gov/contact. We look forward to taking your calls as soon as the government reopens.”
The remarks made by the woman closely echo those of President Donald Trump, who has made it clear on social media that he blames the ongoing shutdown on congressional Democrats.
“Democrats are far more concerned with illegal immigrants than they are with our great military or safety at our dangerous southern border,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “They could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead.”
“#WeNeedMoreRepublicansIn18 in order to power through mess!” he added.
The shutdown was triggered Saturday morning after Senate Republicans failed to pass a House-drafted continuing resolution bill that would have funded the government for four additional weeks and also extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program by six years.
According to CNBC, 45 Senate Democrats and five Senate Republicans voted against the funding bill late Friday, including Sens. Rand Paul R-Ky., and Jeff Flake, R-Az.
Democrats opposed the CR and have signaled their intent to oppose any other short-term spending measure because they demand any deal contain protection for illegal immigrants who were a part of the Obama-ere Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump rescinded last year.
“Unless we pass the #DreamAct, I won’t support another short-term funding bill. Our Dreamers have waited far too long for a chance to be a part of this country’s future,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tweeted Thursday.
Republicans have countered this narrative by noting that Congress has until March 5 until DACA officially expires.
“With no imminent deadline on immigration, and with bipartisan talks well underway, there is no reason why Congress should hold government funding hostage over the issue of illegal immigration,” McConnell said last week, as reported by The Spokesman-Review.
He reiterated this point Sunday, saying, “Stop this filibuster, end the shutdown and allow the negotiators to get back to work. This shutdown was a political miscalculation of gargantuan proportions.”
McConnell is reportedly so intent on ending the shutdown that he plans to keep the Senate in session all day Sunday, including up until as late as 1 a.m. Monday morning, according to Bloomberg.
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