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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker calls on Senate to confirm Michael Pack as head of US media agency McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump over treatment of protesters House Democrat demands answers from Secret Service about role breaking up White House protests MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday knocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump vows to campaign against Murkowski after senator's criticism Senate advances conservation fund bill, House introduces companion Paul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill 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. 

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Congressional leadership, including Schumer and McConnell, are heading to the White House to have a second "briefing" on the border with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 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 ShelbyHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Top Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump 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 PelosiPelosi: 'Scary' to see uniformed troops on steps of Lincoln Memorial Pelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Pelosi demands Trump clarify deployment of unidentified law enforcement in DC 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."