Senate votes to fund government through Feb. 8
Members of Idaho’s Republican congressional delegation were largely quiet over the weekend about the federal government shutdown.
The exception? Rep. Raúl Labrador, who in 2013 was part of the House wing that triggered a shutdown over an attempt to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act.
Labrador, who has also been active recently on the immigration issues tied to this weekend’s shutdown, is firmly in the anti-shutdown camp this time. In a Friday evening interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, in a press release and on social media, he has blamed Democrats for the new shutdown, saying they wanted amnesty for “illegal aliens” and were “denying vital government services that American citizens paid for in order to benefit those who have no legal right to live here.”
That refers to the the nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including more than 3,000 in Idaho, who were brought here illegally as children. Labrador told the Statesman last month that any DACA fix could not give such immigrants any sort of “special pathway” to become legal citizens.
“This is a shameful political stunt, and the Democrats are delusional if they think it will politically benefit them,” said Labrador, who is also running for governor this year. “We need Democrats to work with us in good faith to reopen the government.”
Labrador and fellow Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson voted Thursday on a spending bill that would have funded the Children’s Health Program and would keep the government open for several weeks.
The bill did not get a vote in the Senate after negotiations between President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer broke down Friday. Votes to pay military personnel and to keep the government open for a few days were both blocked over the weekend, before the Senate reached a deal midday Monday clearing the way for the government to eventually reopen.
Labrador also this weekend echoed a call by President Donald Trump to use the “nuclear option” and change Senate rules to require only a simple majority on the budget vote, rather than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. That’s what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did last year to get around opposition to the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. But this time, according to press reports, McConnell didn’t agree with the tactic.
Communications from other Idaho members of Congress largely dealt with how constituents could reach their services during the shutdown. Sen. Mike Crapo posted a link to a Q&A page about the shutdown. Sen. Jim Risch posted a weekend tweet about the March for Life, the annual anti-abortion rally.