Congress Back to Work Despite State of the Union Delay

Video: “PBS NewsHour” correspondent Lisa Desjardins has this report from Washington, D.C.

There was a flurry of action Tuesday on Capitol Hill, but none of it involved the State of the Union address, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) initially denied President Donald Trump an invitation to deliver that address during the partial government shutdown. After Trump reopened the government – without securing funding for a border wall – Pelosi extended an invitation to Trump for Feb. 5, which he accepted. In the end, that standoff forced the longest partial government shutdown in history: 35 days.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said Tuesday he had asked former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to give the Democratic response to the address.

“Three weeks ago I called Stacey Abrams and asked her to deliver the response to the State of the Union,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

“I was very delighted when she agreed,” he said. “She has led the charge for voting rights which is at the root of just about everything else. And she really has. If you look at her background she knows what working people middle class people go through.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to restart border security negotiations. But Tuesday, Schumer told the president to not interfere with those talks.

“I hope this serves as a lesson to President Trump and all of my Republican colleagues. No more shutdown,” said Schumer. “When the president stays out of the negotiations, we almost always succeed. When he mixes in it’s a formula for failure.”

Trump said there is a "less than 50-50" chance negotiators will reach a deal. But it looks like Republicans are less likely to support another shutdown.

“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody. And I hope they’ll be avoided,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell added that he’d be open to a bipartisan bill that would make another shutdown difficult and also to avoid the president declaring a national emergency.

“I think this is an example of government dysfunction which is should be embarrassing to everyone on a bipartisan basis,” McConnell said of the shutdown. “But whatever works which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the president feeling he should declare a national emergency.”

Related stories:

What’s the Price Tag of the Government Shutdown? Economists Weigh In

Federal Courts in Chicago in Triage Mode as Shutdown Trudges On

Senate to Vote Thursday on Dueling Bills to End Government Shutdown

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