Some MLK Day celebrations take on political tone during historic government shutdown

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As lawmakers spread out across their local communities Monday participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, events and speeches took on a more political tone on day 31 of the partial government shutdown, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

“He would relate to federal workers working without pay,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) told a crowd gathered at the St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

Congress is set to return to Washington this week after a new compromise was proposed by President Donald Trump over the weekend. The president is offering to restore protections for DACA recipients for three years in exchange for more than $5 billion for border wall funding.

Top Democrats called the proposal a “non-starter.”

“One of the things Dr. King taught was despite the greatest odds, despite all the naysayers, occasionally you’re able to accomplish miracles together,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said during an interview Monday. “So my hope is Republicans and Democrats during this can come together. Do what’s right for the country. Secure the border and fund the government at the same time.”

Both Young and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) issued statements Saturday backing the president’s proposal. And on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on both Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday, appearing to suggest the administration may be open to compromise.

“Look, we recognize the legislative process is a process of give and take,” Pence said. “The Democrats want to bring amendments or recommendations forward. I know the president will give them due consideration.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has flatly rejected the president’s offer as House Democrats are expected to continue introducing bills this week that would individually fund and re-open government agencies.

“We need to have a separate conversation about the wall,” Carson said in an interview. “But our federal workers need to be paid. They can’t be used as political pawns. Enough is enough.”

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