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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGetting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday knocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act 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 TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens 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 ShelbyCongressional leaders to launch budget talks with White House Democrats agree to humanitarian aid for border as part of disaster package On The Money: New financial disclosures provide glimpse of Trump's wealth | Walmart, Macy's say tariffs will mean price hikes | Consumer agency says Education Department blocking student loan oversight 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 PelosiTlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations GOP lawmaker: Trump has engaged in multiple actions that 'meet the threshold for impeachment' 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."