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Moderate senators cite progress in talks to end government shutdown


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Moderate Republican and Democratic senators held talks on Sunday to break a political impasse that has kept the U.S. government shut down for two days, but it was unclear if a deal could be struck to reopen federal agencies by the start of the work week.

Some of the roughly two dozen senators involved in the discussions said they were making progress, but offered few details of a possible compromise. The ultimate decision was up to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer, they said.

“We are moving in the right direction,” Republican Senator Johnny Isakson said of the effort.

“I wouldn’t rule out anything now, positive or negative. But I think it’s going to be positive,” Isakson said.

An emerging deal appeared to involve reopening the government in return for a promise by majority Republicans to deal with Democrats’ immigration concerns in coming weeks.

“We’re going to open the government and solve immigration at the same time,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight on Friday, and was not renewed amid a dispute between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrats over immigration.

Refusing to support another short-term government funding extension last week, Democrats demanded that Trump live up to an earlier agreement to protect “Dreamers,” illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, from deportation.

“We need to have a substantive answer, and the only person who can lead us to that is President Trump. This is his shutdown,” Dick Durbin, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, said on the CBS “Face the Nation” program.

Trump and other Republicans were just as adamant on Sunday, saying they would not negotiate immigration or other issues as long as all but essential government services remain shuttered.

“We will not negotiate on the status of unlawful immigrants while Senator Schumer and the Democrats hold the government for millions of Americans and our troops hostage,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.


Shutdown, day 2.

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