As Congressional leaders eye a two-week extension to avoid a partial government shutdown this week, the blame game is beginning on Capitol Hill.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have already passed a raft of spending bills but several key agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, will run out of money at 12.01am on December 8th.
At the centre of the negotiations is funding for security along the border between the US and Mexico. President Trump and Republicans are asking for at least $5 billion for border security, whilst Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has offered only $1.6 billion.
To clear procedural hurdles in the Senate, the package will need to earn Democratic votes and President Trump has vowed to veto any legislation without the $5 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Monday December 3rd that he was optimistic that political incentives will guide legislators away from a shutdown.
“Whoever is perceived as responsible for shutting down the government irritates the living hell out of the public and always pulls out,” the Kentucky Republican said.
However, McConnell also made clear that he no longer considers it his problem to negotiate on the border-security funding or necessarily deliver it for the White House. The burden now lies with Senator Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the president, McConnell said.
“He and Schumer and Pelosi need to sit down and discuss how to resolve the differences. I don’t see any reason why they can’t and I believe they will,” he said. If the government does shut down, you can guess whom McConnell might blame.