WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Saturday, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, accused Senate Democrats of holding government funding hostage after the federal government shutdown at midnight Friday.

“I am disappointed in Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for not supporting the bill (to fund the government),” she said in a phone interview, adding that the senators should not be playing political games with people’s lives. “This is inexcusable ... I am against political brinksmanship. We need to come to an agreement.”

For the first time since 2013, the federal government shut down on Saturday after a bill to temporarily keep it funded did not pass the Senate because there was no provision for the 800,000 DREAMers facing deportation. A funding bill passed in the House and Stefanik voted in favor of that bill.

Nonetheless, NY-21 Democratic congressional candidate Don Boyajian on Saturday evening said Stefanik and her Republican colleagues “own the government shutdown.”

“Let’s be clear here — Congresswoman Stefanik and her Republican colleagues control the White House and both chambers of Congress,” he said. “This is just another example of how broken Washington is; the Republicans had one job to do and they couldn’t get it done.”

Boyajian added, “Bipartisan solutions have been crafted on immigration, yet the White House and Republican leaders have refused to listen. And they refused to authorize funding for CHIP three months ago in order to use children as a political pawn. It’s sickening.”

But Stefanik said she has “consistently voted to keep the government open,” adding that she is forgoing her pay during the shutdown.

Additionally on Saturday, Stefanik accused the Democratic pool of NY-21 congressional candidates — hoping to unseat the congresswoman in this year’s election — of remaining silent in the face of the shutdown.

In a release, blaming the candidates with a “SILENT” label before each name — Tanya Boone, Don Boyajian, Tedra Cobb, Sara Idleman, Ronald Kim, Emily Martz, David Mastrianni, Patrick Nelson and Katie Wilson — Stefanik said they must end their silence.

But Nelson, of Stillwater, said the congresswoman owes him an apology for misrepresenting him. And others also responded, saying they had not been silent.

According to Nelson, he retweeted statements from New York legislators, including Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I stand with our senator on this, #ImWithHer #CHIPfunding must be restored and #Dreamers must be protected. If the government shuts down, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the @GOP,” Nelson wrote in a tweet on Friday.

“Our campaign has not been silent. We stand with 9 million children that need CHIP funding and 800,000 young people who are Americans in every way that matters except on paper,” Nelson said in a phone interview late Saturday. “The congresswoman only thinks I’ve been silent because I am one of her constituents and she doesn’t bother listening to us.”

In previous interviews, Stefanik has said that she is very responsive to constituents.

“The Republicans control the presidency and both houses. They refuse to work on bipartisan solutions to our nation’s problems,” said Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb on Saturday. “Their lack of leadership created this crisis. Elise Stefanik is complicit and clearly isn’t taking responsibility for the situation we are now in.”

Stefanik said she will continue to work to “resolve the impasse and implore Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand to end this shutdown and reopen the government immediately.”

Stefanik said Congress remains open despite the shutdown, and her offices are open. She said she has co-sponsored legislation that, if passed, will ensure troops and national security personnel are paid.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, the White House said the government will remain closed and there will be no more immigration talks until it is re-opened.

“This is all about the congresswoman and her party’s failed leadership causing a government shutdown,” said Nelson. “Instead of taking responsibility and working to reopen the government, the congresswoman blames Democratic candidates who have no power in Washington. The people of the North Country are smart enough to understand that if a party controls the House, Senate and presidency, then it is that party’s fault for any governmental shutdown.”

Patrick Nelson