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Political blame game heats up over who is responsible for the government shutdown

Construction cones used to cover walkway flaws, stand along the sidewalk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. On the edge of a government shutdown, a divided House voted late Thursday to keep the government open past a Friday deadline — setting up an eleventh-hour standoff in the Senate, where Democrats have vowed to kill the measure. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Congress was back to work on Saturday trying to reach an agreement to reopen the government.

Both Republicans and Democrats have resorted to a political blame game, seeking to pin responsibility for the shutdown on each other.

After the Senate failed to pass a short-term spending bill on Friday night, triggering the first government shutdown since 2013, the White House issued a statement blaming Democrats for the budget disaster.

"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to respond to the shutdown saying, "Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can't let that happen!"

Democrats, on the other hand, are blaming Donald Trump.

"The Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House, that’s why America and the world are calling it Trump Shutdown," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Democrats were not the only ones to vote against the short-term spending bill. Four Republican senators broke rank and voted with Democrats to shut down the government. Five Democrats voted with Republicans to keep the doors open.

The biggest sticking point in the budget showdown was immigration. Democrats were pushing for a budget deal would include a solution for the nearly 700,000 "dreamers," immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children and given protection and authorized to work the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). In December, Trump announced he would be ending DACA, giving Congress until March 5 to reach an agreement on the status of the dreamers.

Despite a positive bipartisan White House meeting last week, where Trump appeared willing to reach an agreement with Democrats on DACA, both the White House and the Republican majority in Congress determined they were not willing to include immigration issues in the short-term spending bill, and would wait until the March deadline to address DACA.

Late Friday evening, Schumer accused Trump of "rooting for a shutdown" and not negotiating in good faith.

Former White House national security strategist Sebastian Gorka argued that the Democrats' refusal to vote for the short-term spending bill over the issue of dreamers was "absolutely absurd."

"DACA isn't going to expire now," Gorka told WJLA's Armstrong Williams. "What is DACA really about? It's about giving illegal immigrants green cards ... It's about prioritizing illegal immigrants over the American people. That's why this is such an outrage."

Negotiations in the House and Senate continued Saturday, with lawmakers searching for a way to end the shutdown and fund the government. As of Saturday afternoon, it is not clear how long the shutdown could last.

"We need to do this today, this weekend, so people are going back to work Monday," said Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.

House Republicans have signaled they are open to a three-week funding bill, a fix proposed by Mitch McConnell. However, House Democrats and some members of the Senate have said they will only vote for such a measure if they can reach a deal on domestic and defense spending caps and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

The government shutdown intersected Donald Trump's anniversary in office. Trump tweeted that Democrats gave him a "nice present."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrapped a bow around the package, saying, "Happy Anniversary Mr. President. Your wish came true. You wanted a shutdown, the Trump shutdown it is all yours."

Both sides of the aisle are hopeful that the American people will blame their political opponents for the budget fiasco.

According to Gorka, the Democrats will pay the price. "It's Schumer. It's the people who had the 9 votes [to pass the bill] and they said no, we're going to shut it down."

"The good thing is, I think the American people see through it," Gorka noted.

On Friday, ABC News/Washington Post released a poll and found that 48 percent of respondents would blame Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, while only 28 percent said they would blame Democrats.

A separate poll by CNN, found that the majority of respondents did not believe it would be worth it to shut down the government over DACA.

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