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McConnell: Shutdown threat over immigration 'has clearly been eliminated'

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop Senate GOP super PAC makes final .6M investment in Michigan Senate race On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election Overnight Health Care: House Dem report blasts Trump coronavirus response | Regeneron halts trial of antibody drug in sickest hospitalized patients | McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday predicted that Democrats won’t risk another government shutdown after they folded two weeks ago on their demands to add immigration legislation to a stopgap spending bill.

“I don’t think we’ll see a threat [of a] government shutdown again over this subject. One of my favorite old Kentucky country sayings is 'there’s no education in the second kick of a mule,' and so I think there will be a new level of seriousness here trying to resolve these issues,” McConnell told reporters at a Republican retreat at The Greenbrier resort.

He said the threat of a government shutdown to gain leverage in immigration talks “has clearly been eliminated.”

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Senate Democrats said much the same after a three-day government shutdown last month.

They hoped to force President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE and congressional leaders to negotiate on immigration, but the president refused to sit down again with Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerReestablishing American prosperity by investing in the 'Badger Belt' House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs MORE (N.Y.) after an initial meeting at the White House. 

Instead, they extracted a promise from McConnell to bring a neutral immigration bill to the Senate floor after Feb. 8, something McConnell said he was always open to. 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) said Republican and Democratic leaders are still negotiating the length of a continuing resolution to fund the government beyond the end of next week, when current funding expires.

He said the length of the funding and other details of the stopgap need to be ironed out, though Republican lawmakers say there’s talk of extending funding to March 22 or 23. 

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Ryan said Congress has had to fall back on multiple short-term funding measures — well into the 2018 fiscal year — because Democrats have insisted on addressing the plight of illegal immigrants facing deportation along with defense and nondefense spending levels.

“The reason we’re having these [continuing resolutions] is because the Democrats have been holding the cap agreement hostage, the military funding hostage, for an unrelated issue,” Ryan said.

Negotiators are trying to hammer out spending caps for the rest of 2018 as well as fiscal 2019.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPresident Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Nearly 300 more former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report MORE on Thursday asked GOP lawmakers at the retreat to allocate $716 billion in defense funding for 2019.   

McConnell on Thursday clarified the immigration pledge he made to Senate colleagues after Democrats agreed to reopen the government. 

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“If the immigration issue was not resolved in the global discussions … then I’m perfectly happy provided the government is still open on Feb. 8 to go to the subject and to treat it in a fair way,” McConnell said of the prospect of a Senate immigration debate. “We’ll see who can get to 60 votes.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOn The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Pollsters stir debate over Trump numbers MORE (S.D.) told reporters earlier in the day that it was becoming clear that an immigration deal won’t be reached by Feb. 8.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Pollsters stir debate over Trump numbers GOP faces fundraising reckoning as Democrats rake in cash The Memo: Texas could deliver political earthquake MORE (Texas) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (Ill.) are vetting immigration reform proposals being floated by colleagues, including a group of centrists led by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins says systemic racism isn't 'a problem' in Maine Biden, Cunningham hold narrow leads in North Carolina: poll GOP sees path to hold Senate majority MORE (R-Maine) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP faces fundraising reckoning as Democrats rake in cash The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states MORE (R-S.C.).