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Democrats Could Try Shutdown If Russia Probe Stalls

Democratic senators might threaten to shut down the government if Republicans do not push forward in investigating the relationship between President Donald Trump's administration and the Russian government, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said on March 6.

"Sen. [Chuck] Schumer [of New York], who's our minority leader, who's the leader of the Democratic caucus, is regularly negotiating with Majority Leader [Sen. Mitch] McConnell [of Kentucky] over what we are willing to do or not do to shut down the government or shut down the Senate," Coons told WHYY radio when asked about forcing the Republicans' hand regarding the Russia probe, notes CNN. "We've had as you saw, a number of fairly bitter fights over confirmation."

A shutdown has been on the table for several weeks as the Senate prepares to vote on a government spending package by April 28, notes Time magazine. If Democrats block the budget with a filibuster -- over a border wall with Mexico or even the Russia investigation -- a shutdown is possible, especially because top Democrats have not taken it off the table.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens," Schumer said at the end of February. "I hope they won't jam up the supplemental [spending bill] with poison pills."

Coons was looking at a shutdown only as a last resort, his communications director Sean Coit said in a statement, according to CNN.

"He was simply pointing out that funding bills are often forcing mechanisms for both parties to come to agreement on stalled issues," Coit added in the statement. "At some point, congressional Republicans have to recognize the need for a full, bipartisan investigation into allegations of Russian interference in our democracy."

The Delaware lawmaker said Democrats face an inherent challenge in threatening to close all government entities because he and his peers "actually think the government overall does good things for the American people," he explained in the WHYY interview, according to CNN.

"When [Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas] led a successful effort to shut down the government of the United States for 17 days, thousands of federal agencies and offices and functions shut down for several weeks," explained Coons. "I heard very loudly and clearly from the people of Delaware, they don't want us to do that. That's our ultimate card, is to threaten to shut down the government when we get to the end of the funding, that's coming up fairly soon, the end of the continuing resolution. But that's really the only card we've got."

Sources: CNN, Time / Photo credit: Chris Coons/Flickr

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