Sometimes out of failure comes success. Or at least progress.
That may be what happened on the floor of the Senate on Thursday afternoon when both a Republican bill and a Democratic one designed to reopen the government failed to garner the 60 votes they needed to move forward to a final vote.
Both failures were not equal, however. Only one Democrat – West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – voted for the Republican bill. Six Republicans voted for the Democratic bill, which would simply reopen the government to create a short period in which to negotiate on border funding.
The willingness of that half-dozen Republicans to publicly break with Trump – even though it was abundantly clear their votes wouldn’t help the Democratic proposal pass – could well be the moment that breaks this logjam that has kept the government partially closed for the last 34 days.
Shortly after the votes happened, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer huddled in an attempt to forge a way forward. And Trump himself seemed open to the idea of a compromise.
“Mitch is negotiating with Chuck Schumer and we’ll see what happens,” said the President. “If they come to a reasonable agreement I would support it.”
“Reasonable” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. The White House is signaling it needs a “large down payment” on the border wall for Trump to sign off on a deal to reopen the government. Democrats have, to date, been adamant that tying wall funding to the government reopening is a non-starter. (Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the idea of a “down payment” for the wall was “not a reasonable agreement.”)
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So this could all blow up before the night is over. (If that happens, it’s likely to come from Trump’s Twitter feed.) But the two sides are talking. And the President – always the “X” factor in any compromise in Washington – appears to be willing to see what those talks produce.
One thing that might throw cold water on this optimism: CNN’s exclusive reporting that the White House is preparing a draft proclamation to declare a national emergency along the southern border, and has identified more than $7 billion for the wall if he goes that route.
The Point: The shutdown isn’t over yet. But we are closer to an end tonight than we have been at any point since the shutdown began on December 22.