WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Congress is in day two of its new session, split along partisan lines and grappling with a partial government shutdown.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) takes on a new leadership role in the now democratically-controlled House of Representatives this year.
Voting along party lines, the House passed a spending package Thursday. But, it does not include funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall – and that’s expected to be a sticking point in the republican-controlled Senate.
"A government shutdown helps no one," said Butterfield, "it certainly doesn’t help the 800,000 people who have been furloughed, but it also damages the American economy and keeps us from economic growth."
Butterfield also voiced concern that a continuing shutdown could jeopardize benefit programs for poor Americans and affect the processing of tax returns.
Butterfield did say he would be open to more border security funding if the president would consider a path to citizenship those who came to the country as children. He made it clear that on that point he spoke for himself not for the rest of his party.
Beyond the shutdown, the congressman said House democrats will work to protect and improve the Affordable Care Act, seek a bi-partisan path to fix bridges and roads, and investigate allegations of presidential misconduct.
Meanwhile, the new U.S. Congress still has two empty seats, and both belong to North Carolina.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) is fighting an undisclosed illness. Butterfield said he would personally administer Jones' oath of office at five o'clock Friday night in Farmville.
"We are praying for his speedy recovery, it’s an honor for me to administer his oath," said Butterfield, "we have every reason to believe that within the next few weeks he will be back on the job and ready to continue his work as representative for the third district.
Butterfield said questions swirling around North Carolina’s 9th congressional district may not be sorted out until the end of the month.
There, unofficial counts appeared to give the win to republican Mark Harris over democrat Dan McReady. But, a new election may be necessary after significant evidence of voter fraud came to light.