With Washington just hours away from a partial government shutdown, lawmakers and President Donald Trump still have not yet reached a deal to stave off a shutdown.
An effort to broker an agreement that would prevent a shuttering of key federal agencies appears to be underway, however. Republican Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said on the Senate floor late in the day Friday that an “understanding has been reached” that the Senate will not take any further votes related to the funding issue “until a global agreement has been reached between the President” and congressional leaders.
It is not yet clear whether that effort will succeed in stopping a partial shutdown or exactly what it might involve.
Corker made his remarks just after the Senate approved a motion to proceed to consideration of a House-passed spending bill that includes an additional $5 billion for the President’s border wall, and which has been widely considered dead on arrival in the upper chamber.
Vice President Mike Pence, budget director Mick Mulvaney and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were on Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon meeting with senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, about finding a solution.
The President has repeatedly said he is unwilling to accept anything less than $5 billion for his long-promised border wall. But the fact that the $5 billion border wall is viewed as a measure that would be impossible to pass in the Senate indicates that votes aren’t there on the Hill to meet the President’s demand.
Funding for roughly a quarter of the federal government expires at midnight, including appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other parts of the government.
Trump predicts shutdown after meeting with Republican senators
Trump predicted there likely will be a government shutdown Friday night and put the onus on Democrats – a reversal from his position just a week ago, when he said he would “take the mantle” and not blame the opposing party.
“The chances are probably very good” that there is a shutdown, Trump said to reporters Friday afternoon while at a White House bill signing on bipartisan legislation overhauling the nation’s sentencing laws.
“It’s really the Democrat shutdown, because we’ve done our thing,” Trump continued. “Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether we have a shutdown tonight. I hope we don’t, but we’re totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”
Just a week ago, the President – sitting in the Oval Office with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over border security.
“I will take the mantle,” Trump said last week. “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
Earlier Friday, Trump hosted Senate Republicans to the White House on Friday morning for discussions about the looming shutdown threat, though it was not apparent if any progress had been made during that meeting. Senate Majority Leader McConnell, upon returning to Capitol Hill from his meeting in the White House, said GOP Senators had a “good conversation” with Trump and that “we are going to continue to be talking about a way forward”.
To add insult to injury: As Senate Republicans headed to the White House, a source who asked not to be identified told CNN that “things are so chaotic at the White House that some Republican senators can’t get in because Secret Service didn’t even have time to clear them (or the staff who is driving them there!)”