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Shutdown Day 2

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This weekend marks one year of a Trump administration, but that anniversary is being overshadowed by Day 2 of the federal government shutdown. Democrats and Republicans are taking predictable swipes at each other, trying to place the shutdown blame on the other party.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: Here we are, Day 1 of the Senate Democrats' government shutdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: There's no such thing as a good shutdown. Democrats have never been for it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LAMAR ALEXANDER: Shutting down the government ought to be like chemical weapons is in warfare. It should be banned.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: Negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander speaking to CNN and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. House Speaker Paul Ryan said this morning on CBS' "Face The Nation" that the House will accept a Senate bill to keep the government funded until February 8. We'll be hearing from Senator Bernie Sanders this hour and get some Republican insight later in the show.

But first we turn to NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson, who's been very busy. Good morning.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Where are we right now? And how did we get here?

LIASSON: Well, we are still at a stalemate. The government is shut down for the second day. And as you just said, the House is now willing to accept another short-term funding bill, which is what the Democrats originally had asked for so that the two sides would have more time to negotiate around immigration, specifically what should happen to the DREAMers, who had relief from deportation until Donald Trump decided to end it. And he gave the Congress a March deadline to come up with an alternative.

So the question is, would the Senate accept a short-term bill till February 8? And what kind of assurances would Democrats get in that bill that the DACA deals that are being worked on right now for the DREAMers would get a vote on the floor of the Senate? Today, Marc Short, who's the legislative affairs director at the White House, wouldn't promise that those deals could get a vote on the floor or that he'd agreed to it.

So both sides are in a difficult situation. Republicans don't want to be blamed for a shutdown. They own - they control all of government. On the other hand, Democrats know that if they're seen as shutting down the government just to protect, quote, "illegal immigrants" that will hurt them particularly in the red states, where they're defending Senate seats this year.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'd like to talk a little bit about the discussion around immigration and specifically the words you just used, illegal immigrants, framing it that way. The goalposts keep moving. It sounds to me like what's now being debated is not just about DACA for the Republicans. It's now about fundamental changes to America's immigration systems. And that - those fundamental changes are what the president wants. This isn't where things started, but that's where we are now. How did...

LIASSON: That's right. Well, two things changed. One is that DACA recipients, DREAMers, young people brought here - some in some cases as infants - by their parents, did not used to be called illegal immigrants even by Republicans. So they weren't letting them be legalized. It was not considered amnesty because they were too young to have knowingly committed a crime of immigrating illegally. But that has changed.

The rhetoric on immigration in this funding fight has become much harsher, and the DREAMers have been lumped in with all sorts of illegal immigrants. The president's campaign committee is airing an ad saying Democrats are going to be responsible for any crimes committed by illegal immigrants - very, very harsh rhetoric.

Also, the president has now been demanding - in exchange for continuing deportation relief for DREAMers or legalizing them, he's been asking for, as you say, some big, big, fundamental changes to America's immigration systems like ending chain migration - sometimes called family reunification - ending the diversity lottery and fully funding his border wall, which Democrats are coming around to saying, well, we'll give that to him. It's meaningless. It's just symbolic. They're willing to agree to that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We have a vote dramatically timed for 1 a.m. overnight. What's the purpose of that?

LIASSON: The purpose of that is to show the country that the Congress is still working on this. They're not taking the weekend off. But it's unclear if anything's going to happen in that vote. Or are they going to have to wait till Monday to see if they can get one of these bills on the floor and get - and buy themselves some more time to negotiate these bigger issues?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So buy themselves more time. If this funding bill only goes until February 8, does that mean this could happen all over again, just briefly?

LIASSON: Absolutely. It could happen all over again. But at least it gets them past the State of the Union address so the government isn't shut down when the president addresses both houses of Congress on January 30.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Mara Liasson keeping us up to date. Thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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