Senate fails to reach a deal, government headed to shutdown

Senate vote to end debate that would have moved towards a vote on a short-term spending bill failed Friday night, teeing up the government for an all-but-certain shutdown at midnight.

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 10:50 PM

(CBS NEWS)A Senate vote to end debate that would have moved towards a vote on a short-term spending bill failed Friday night, teeing up the government for an all-but-certain shutdown at midnight.

Republican senators failed to capture the 60 votes they needed to even vote on the bill that would have funded the government for 30 days, a bill the House passed Thursday night.

Shortly before the scheduled vote, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there is "no deal" reached among Republicans to ensure passage, and the vote will be on a 30-day spending bill, rather than an even more short-term funding solution, as some in the Senate had suggested. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, announced he was a "no" on the 30-day deal, making a shutdown even more likely.

Part of the failure to reach a deal, at least according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, is because of President Trump. Blumenthal said that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Mr. Trump were close to reaching a comprehensive agreement earlier today, but the president walked away after talking to the hard right.

On Capitol Hill Friday night, the scene was one of uncertainty.

As a Democratic senator told CBS News' Nancy Cordes ahead of the vote, "We won't know until we get there." One senator pegged the chances of temporary shutdown — lasting, perhaps, through part of the weekend — at chances of 3 to 1.

What to know about a government shutdown
"It's one step forward with the White House, four steps back," said a senior Democratic Senate aide who noted it's unclear who among Republicans is in charge of negotiations. The White House is telling Democrats to negotiate with McConnell, who is still unclear what it exactly is that the president wants.

"It's like negotiating with Jell-O," the aide said, adding, "the talks won't wrap up unless the president takes the reins."

President Trump tweeted just before 9:30 p.m. that it was "not looking good" and invoked the military and border security. He blamed Democrats, saying they "want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for booming economy."

Senate leadership and the White House are negotiating over two parallel issues — how long a government funding bill should last and what it should include, and what to include in a bill to protect DACA "Dreamers" and improve border security, a source told Cordes. The Senate Democratic Caucus met at 8:30 p.m. meeting to discuss strategy, while House Democrats scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. on Saturday, suggesting they expect a shutdown.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, all announced on Friday they would vote for a short-term funding bill, called a continuing resolution or CR.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, suggested a spending bill that's even shorter than the current 30-day proposal. He wants something that would fund the government closer to through Feb. 8.

"After lengthy conversations with senators from both parties, I believe no one wants the government to shut down," Graham said. "I also believe that we are inside the 10 yard line on finding solutions on all issues previously described including immigration."

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said he still thinks it's possible to reach a short-term spending deal Friday night, but that a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlikely in the next 48 hours.

Late Friday afternoon, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he thinks there is a good chance Congress will reach a deal before Monday, not offering much hope for a deal by midnight. Mulvaney floated the possibility of weekend votes.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump spoke with Ryan by phone, according to a source familiar with the communication.

Before that, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York went to the White House after an invitation from President Trump. The president, his chief of staff, John Kelly, and Schumer and his chief of staff met alone in the Oval Office, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports. according to a White House official. Schumer told reporters afterward that progress had been made, but there's no deal yet.

"We had a long and detailed meeting," Schumer said. "We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress, but we still have a good number is disagreements -- but discussions will continue.

Mr. Trump, however, had a more optimistic view of the meeting, describing it as "excellent."

Meanwhile, the executive branch is laying out plans for a shutdown.

A senior White House official on a conference call Friday night said the president could still travel to Davos, Switzerland, on Air Force One in the event of the shutdown, because funding for such travel is at his discretion. Mr. Trump had been scheduled to leave Washington for Mar-a-Lago for the weekend on Friday, but the White House canceled his scheduled departure.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it would extend the declaration of a public health emergency for the opioid crisis. The initial declaration was to expire on Wednesday.

Mulvaney sent a memo of frequently asked questions and answers regarding what to do in a shutdown to department and agency heads.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt issued a memo to employees stating the agency has enough funding for now, and directing employees to come into work next week, no matter what happens.

Capitol Lounge, a favorite spot for Capitol Hill staffers, began advertising drink specials starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, including, "To Flake or not to Flake," and "Have you ever met a Haitian?"

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