Oregon Democratic senator won’t back stopgap spending bill

Sen. Jeff Merkley said he will vote against the short-term spending measure Republicans put forth to fund the government and avert a shutdown before the Friday midnight deadline.

The Oregon Democrat said on CNN’s New Day he won’t support the continuing resolution unless there’s deal on immigration and funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health clinics is included.

Merkley argued that Americans will likely blame Republicans for the government shutdown, although a recent Quinnipiac poll shows that Americans are about evenly split on whether they would point the finger at the GOP (32%) or the Democratic Party (34%).

“I think the American people are going to see that the Republicans are in charge of the presidency, they’re in charge of the House, they’re in charge of the Senate, that Democrats are willing to do a short-term (continuing resolution) to keep negotiations going,” Merkley said. “So we’re not calling for a shutdown.”

Merkley also argued that President Donald Trump “doesn’t seem engaged” on reaching a deal to avert a government shutdown at midnight, saying he needs to stay in DC to see a deal through.

A White House spokesperson said Friday morning that Trump won’t head to his posh Florida resort Friday if lawmakers can’t avert a government shutdown. The President had been planning to spend the weekend at Mar-a-Lago for the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, hosting a Saturday night fundraising soiree with $100,000 tickets.

The House voted Thursday night to pass the short-term spending measure, but the future of the legislation in the Senate is uncertain. If every Senate Republican is in support of the bill, the 51 GOP senators still need nine of their Democratic colleagues to vote yes with them to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster. As of now, three Republican senators said they would not support the House measure.