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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump Cardi B expresses solidarity with federal workers not getting paid MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday knocked Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' 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 directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees 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 ShelbyCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight 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 PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' 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."