Schumer: McConnell is 'abdicating his responsibility' in shutdown talks

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday knocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Overnight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars Trump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' MORE (R-Ky.), urging him to dig into the partial shutdown negotiations and accusing him of "abdicating his responsibility."  

Schumer, characterizing the Senate GOP leader as an "adept negotiator," said McConnell "can't keep ducking this issue." 

"Why is he abdicating his responsibility now? Why is Leader McConnell shuffling off to the sidelines, pointing his fingers at everyone else and saying he won't be involved?" Schumer asked from the Senate floor. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Congressional leadership, including Schumer and McConnell, are heading to the White House to have a second "briefing" on the border with President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE. Talks to reopen roughly a quarter of the government are stalemated over funding for Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall.  

Schumer added that Trump is a "terrible negotiator" and "erratic, unreliable and sometimes irrational," suggesting that could be impacting McConnell's strategy.  

The Senate previously passed a stopgap bill to fund a quarter of the government through Feb. 8 with the expectation that Trump would sign it, but the president rejected the measure in a surprise move. 

"I understand Leader McConnell's reluctance to get involved. But in truth, they are all the more reason for him getting involved. America needs Leader McConnell to get involved to stop this shutdown," Schumer added. 

McConnell has taken a back seat in the government funding fight, saying a deal will need to be worked out between Trump and Congressional Democrats. The House passed a bill on Thursday night to fully reopen the government, but McConnell has pledged that the Senate will not take it up because the president doesn't support it. 

Republicans have defended McConnell's strategy, arguing he's not removing himself from the negotiations but recognizes the current dynamics of the shutdown fight.

"I don't think he's on the sidelines but he realizes that he's tried to work these deals and they haven't born fruit yet and the disagreement is, obviously, between the House and the Senate Democratic leadership and the president of the United States," Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyFive takeaways from Trump's budget Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Trump unveils 2020 budget | Calls for cuts to NIH | Proposes user fees on e-cigs | Azar heads to Capitol to defend blueprint | Key drug price bill gets hearing this week Trump's emergency declaration looms over Pentagon funding fight MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said on Thursday.

McConnell, asked about his stance, separately told reporters that he hadn't "been sidelined" but noted that it's up to Schumer, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings MORE (D-Calif.) and Trump to make an agreement. 

"So, I haven't been sidelined," McConnell said. "It's just that there's no particular role for me when you have this setup."