Senate Lacks Votes to Advance GOP Spending Bill: Shutdown Update
(Bloomberg) -- Temporary government funding runs out at midnight Friday and there’s still no agreement on a temporary extension. Democrats are demanding that a stopgap include a provision permanently shielding some undocumented immigrants from deportation, while Republicans want to keep that issue separate from funding and budget negotiations.
Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day:
Senate Lacks Votes to Advance GOP Spending Bill (10:58 p.m.)
The Senate was short of the votes needed to advance a Republican House-passed plan to keep the government open past midnight. The vote was continuing, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer left the floor together in conversation.
Democrats have said they have enough votes to block the measure, which needs 60 votes to advance. Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the chamber.
Cornyn Says No Deal Reached on Compromise (9:57 p.m.)
John Cornyn, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said the two parties haven’t yet found an agreement that would provide short-term funding for the government with a little more than two hours before the deadline.
“No deal,” Cornyn said as the Senate prepared to take up a House-passed funding bill that Democrats have the votes to block.
A group of lawmakers has been working on a plan for a three-week funding bill that would give Democrats and Republicans time to negotiate a long-term compromise on immigration, the chief sticking point in the spending fight.
Graham Floats Three-Week Funding Plan (9:32 p.m.)
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he’s proposing a three-week spending bill to avoid a shutdown, along with a promise to work toward agreements on immigration and spending limits.
Yet President Donald Trump voiced pessimism about whether lawmakers would reach agreement and pass a bill in time. He wrote on Twitter: "Not looking good." He went on to blame Democrats, saying they wanted to draw attention away from passage of tax cuts last month.
Graham, one of only a few Senate Republicans who oppose the House-passed spending bill, told reporters he met with Democratic and Republican leaders to discuss his proposal.
Democrats say they have enough votes in the Senate to block the four-week bill to extend government funding that was passed by the House. Party leaders have pushed an extension of as little as five days. Eight-term Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont rejected the three-week plan. “I’m tired of kicking the can down the road,” he said.
The White House also hasn’t signed off, and Trump’s approval would be crucial in getting the House to go along.
A three-week extension would put the next fiscal showdown the week after President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, which is scheduled for Jan. 30.
“The week after the State of the Union seems to be a prime area for us to land,“ Graham said.
-- Erik Wasson
McConnell Sets 10 p.m. Showdown Vote (7:09 p.m.)
The Senate is scheduled to hold a 10 p.m. procedural vote on the House-passed temporary government funding bill that is almost certain to fail, setting up a partial government shutdown as of midnight unless Democrats and Republicans can come up with a last-minute deal to break their stalemate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the vote. But Democrats said they have the votes to block it and at least two Republicans planned to join them in opposition.
Despite optimism from the White House, No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn said the odds of the government closing down at midnight are rising.
“The government shuts down in five hours and 40 minutes and there’s no solution,” Cornyn of Texas said at the Capitol.
-- Laura Litvan, Sahil Kapur.
Budget Chief Predicts Deal in 24 Hours (6:01 p.m.)
The White House budget director predicted Republicans and Democrats would strike a deal in the next 24 hours to provide temporary funding for the government that would let federal agencies open on schedule Monday.
“I think there’s a deal in the next 24 hours,” Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget said on CNN. “Because of the nature of the back and forth between the House and the Senate, I look at more of in terms of what gets done before the offices are supposed to open on Monday."
President Donald Trump spoke by phone with House Speaker Paul Ryan and met at the White House with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as part of the effort to break the stalemate. But there were no public signs of that an agreement was imminent.
A Republican congressional aide confirmed the president’s call with Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, but gave no details. A few hours earlier, Schumer had returned to the Capitol from the White House citing “progress” in his talks with Trump, but he had no deal in hand. Schumer of New York met privately with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Less than seven hours before federal funding runs out and a partial government shutdown was to begin, Trump tweeted that he and Schumer had an “excellent preliminary meeting.” While Schumer has been urging a funding extension of only a few days to continue negotiations, Trump said in the tweet that a “four week extension would be best!”
A White House official was more firm, saying a five-day extension was a non-starter. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
White House legislative liaison Marc Short put an optimistic spin on the situation.
“I feel like we’ll get it done," he said as he headed into second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn’s office. "We have a few more hours. This is Congress, right?”
Any government shutdown might be a short one, depending on the negotiations over immigration, spending and other issues. GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said lawmakers are close to resolving those matters as well as children’s health insurance, disaster funding and payments to shore up Obamacare.
“This is an unpleasant place to be, but maybe it will provoke enough willpower around here for people to act like grownups and sit down and work these things out,” Alexander said.
-- Justin Sink, Sahil Kapur, Erik Wasson and Jennifer Epstein
No Deal Reached in Trump-Schumer Meeting (3:22 p.m.)
No deal was reached when President Donald Trump spent more than an hour meeting with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a White House official said.
The partisan deadlock over immigration dragged on and threatened to leave the government without funding after midnight on Friday.
“We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress but we still have a good number of disagreements,” Schumer said after returning to the Capitol from the White House. “The discussions will continue.”
The meeting, initiated by Trump, was a one-on-one between the president and the Democratic leader, with staff for each also present, according to a person familiar with the matter. Republican congressional leaders weren’t included. The fact that it took place raised hopes among some lawmakers that it may lead to a breakthrough that would let the Senate act on a stalled stopgap funding measure.
“They clearly are major players and if they can come up with a compromise then it’s likely to help us end this unacceptable impasse,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins.
Collins said she supports an effort by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, to introduce compromise immigration legislation that gives protection for some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and also provide addition funding for border security.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a hardliner on immigration, said he hopes “the president will talk some sense into Senator Schumer and the Democrats” so they don’t shut down the government “for illegal immigrants.”
-- Laura Litvan, Justin Sink
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org, Erik Wasson in Washington at email@example.com, Anna Edgerton in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org, Sahil Kapur in Washington at email@example.com, Steven T. Dennis in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org, Billy House in Washington at email@example.com.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.
With assistance from Laura Litvan, Erik Wasson, Anna Edgerton, Sahil Kapur, Steven T. Dennis, Billy House