During the two-and-a-half days the federal government has been shut down over an immigration dispute, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has called on Congress to end a federal government shutdown and pass legislation protecting the country’s roughly 800,000 Dreamers.
But on Monday, he said funding the government took priority.
As the U.S. Senate gridlocked over a proposal to fund the federal government through Feb. 8 — with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insistent that immigration talks come after the government is funded and Minority Leader Charles Schumer insistent that immigration come first — Scott slammed Congress for failing taxpayers. He also made sure to call out Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who voted against funding the government Friday and may face a challenge from Scott as he seeks reelection to the Senate in November.
“There should not be a government shutdown. There shouldn’t be finger-pointing. A group of senators, along with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, has taken this action. It doesn’t make any sense,” Scott said just before 11 a.m. during a visit to the Ana Méndez University System in Miami Lakes. “It’s wrong what they’re doing. I hope they’ll today come to their senses and continue our government.”
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Whether they do it separately or not, what’s important to me is that at some point they protect the dreamers and protect our borders
Scott initially demurred on which issue he found to be more important. But asked whether members of the Senate should acquiesce to McConnell’s push to fund the government and then take up DACA, he had this to say:
“What they need to do is they need to get this government running again. You should not shut down the federal government,” he said. “Whether they do it separately or not, what’s important to me is that at some point they protect the Dreamers and protect our borders.”
Schumer and Senate Democrats did ultimately vote Monday afternoon to reopen the government, with Nelson voting in favor. Nelson, whose office explained his no-vote over the weekend as a position against a bill that failed to consider disaster relief or Florida’s devastated agricultural industry, is already taking heat from immigration activist groups.
“This is a win for bipartisanship and commonsense,” Nelson said in a statement.
Following the Senate’s vote, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote to re-open the government Monday.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect Scott’s statements about how Congress should handle the federal shutdown.