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Moderate senators feel boost as shutdown ends

At a time of unrelenting political divisiveness, a bipartisan group of senators claimed a rare victory on Monday foll...

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 6:14 AM
Updated: Jan 23, 2018 6:14 AM

At a time of unrelenting political divisiveness, a bipartisan group of senators claimed a rare victory on Monday following the deal to reopen the government.

Led by centrists Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a group of senators met four times behind closed doors throughout the weekend to forge an alliance that would pressure leaders on both sides to come to an agreement.

Bipartisan senators met throughout the weekend and started out with 17 members

By Monday, that group has been expanded to 25 senators

Collins and Manchin led a similar effort during the 2013 shutdown and early last week they decided to give it another go as negotiations stalled ahead of the shutdown.

The group started out with 17 senators on Friday and expanded to 25 senators by Monday. "That's a pretty powerful number of people who are able to make a difference with their votes and their voices," Collins told reporters.

In exchange for a vote to end the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged his "intention" Sunday to hold a debate on immigration legislation after February 8 if a deal wasn't already struck by then. The compromise proposal was very similar to what the bipartisan group had pitched, Collins said.

Not pleased with the word "intention," Democrats were skeptical at first that McConnell would follow through on his promise. Members of the bipartisan group emerged from their Monday meeting urging McConnell to strengthen his commitment. At the same time, members also urged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to accept that commitment, if made firmer.

McConnell used the term "intention" again on Monday but delivered what many Democrats described as a more convincing promise with concrete details. Within a couple of hours, the Senate advanced the proposal with the help of more than two dozen Democrats.

Manchin and Collins immediately held a news conference to praise the group's effort and tout its influence in the process.

"It was the decisions made by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer that brought us to this point," Collins said. "But I believe that our group, by giving them specific ideas for how to move forward and because of the size and bipartisan nature of our group, played a very instrumental role in breaking the impasse."

Also closely involved in the talks was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who separately helped lead the "Gang of Six" bipartisan group that focused specifically on immigration before the government shutdown.

Can the group stay together?

Graham said he hopes the Collins-Manchin bipartisan talks will now turn to a number of issues, including disaster relief, the budget and defense spending.-"The people who kind of were involved in helping the leaders reopen the government need to stay involved in finding solutions."

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said he was "proud" to play a role in the bipartisan group. In a place where trust runs low, he said the group managed to form a degree of trust that helped other rank-and-file members develop trust in Schumer and McConnell.

"There will always be critics," Kaine said, when asked about criticism Democrats faced by agreeing to McConnell's offer. "We know who's in the White House ... but we're living in a reality. I think this is the most likely path to finding a solution for Dreamers."

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, acknowledged the group was "just getting started" in terms of broader efforts, but he said the outcome gave him hope that moderates in the Senate can have more sway in the future. "I think there's a strong sense that we can actually work together," he said.

Some senators expressed a cautiously optimistic view.

"Working in a bipartisan way is quite unusual around here now, and I think that's a step in the right direction," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama.

"I think this is a baby step," said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. "I think it's great that people are talking, but just because 20 people agree to something, doesn't mean that the other 80 are going to agree."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10708104
Hinds10519205
Harrison7555113
Jackson6708128
Rankin6130112
Lee547697
Madison5202110
Forrest400187
Jones382189
Lauderdale3727147
Lafayette344057
Washington3367108
Lamar307550
Lowndes261167
Oktibbeha259962
Bolivar250185
Panola240253
Neshoba2311122
Marshall227151
Leflore213991
Monroe212278
Pontotoc211231
Lincoln200867
Sunflower195555
Warren184958
Tate184051
Union176826
Copiah172540
Pike168360
Pearl River163870
Yazoo162940
Scott162730
Itawamba162637
Alcorn160428
Coahoma157844
Prentiss156732
Simpson155153
Adams148352
Grenada147145
Leake143344
Holmes135761
Covington135541
Tippah132530
George131725
Winston131726
Hancock130942
Wayne124924
Attala124735
Marion124248
Tishomingo114844
Chickasaw112132
Newton112129
Tallahatchie100727
Clay97127
Clarke95653
Jasper88523
Stone83115
Calhoun81513
Walthall79930
Montgomery78826
Carroll76315
Smith75716
Lawrence75214
Yalobusha74428
Noxubee74217
Perry69326
Tunica63519
Greene63022
Jefferson Davis60217
Amite59315
Claiborne59316
Humphreys55719
Quitman5117
Benton50518
Kemper49318
Webster47914
Wilkinson41322
Jefferson38712
Franklin3726
Choctaw3697
Sharkey33117
Issaquena1234
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 260359

Reported Deaths: 3776
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34716513
Mobile20452370
Madison14215153
Tuscaloosa13755173
Montgomery12731243
Shelby1110278
Baldwin9341137
Lee801566
Morgan722855
Etowah692170
Calhoun6809121
Marshall675058
Houston552739
DeKalb512940
Cullman480246
St. Clair460357
Limestone455046
Lauderdale443357
Elmore432567
Walker3861112
Talladega381157
Jackson361623
Colbert341546
Blount315845
Autauga289342
Franklin262634
Coffee257717
Dale244454
Dallas234932
Chilton233641
Covington232434
Russell23153
Escambia206932
Tallapoosa190291
Chambers187551
Clarke164120
Pike163814
Marion148236
Winston144725
Lawrence137336
Pickens129720
Geneva12818
Marengo126724
Bibb125238
Barbour121429
Butler120042
Randolph107022
Cherokee106724
Hale101432
Fayette99916
Clay94825
Washington93921
Henry8996
Monroe84611
Lowndes82629
Cleburne80714
Macon77122
Crenshaw73330
Conecuh72914
Lamar7258
Bullock70919
Perry6987
Wilcox65518
Sumter59522
Greene44518
Choctaw43519
Coosa3824
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