Partial shutdown likely to continue until after Christmas
President Trump, following comments from a few Republican Senators, tweeted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should move to change the Senate rules to require just a simple majority to move forward on legislation (the “nuclear option” to end the 60 vote threshold.)
To make this as clear as humanly possible: This will never happen as long as McConnell is leader. Period.
McConnell has explicitly said multiple times on the record that he won't. And even if he tried, he wouldn’t even have enough GOP votes to carry out the nuclear option since a number of his members are opposed as well.
So in short, this isn’t going to happen.
Washington is on the brink of a partial government shutdown, with funding set to expire for several key federal agencies tonight at midnight and no guarantee that lawmakers can come up with a plan that President Trump will support to extend the rapidly approaching deadline.
If lawmakers can't strike a deal with the President, there are a number of government entities that would be affected by a lapse in funding, including....
- The Department of Homeland Security
- The Justice Department
- The Interior Department
- The State Department
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development
Remember: If a shutdown were to take place, it would be limited in scope. That's because lawmakers have already funded roughly 75% of the federal government through September 2019.
Watch: What a government shutdown means for you
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to schedule a vote Friday to begin debate on the House-passed CR, which includes the $5 billion for the border wall.
To begin debate, McConnell will need 50 senators to vote to advance the measure. But GOP and Democratic sources are skeptical he will get 50 votes, in part, because of absences as well as frustration about the President’s handling of this episode.
If McConnell does get on the bill, he would need 60 votes to break a Democratic filibuster. That means he would need at least nine Democrats to vote to break the filibuster, which will not happen.
At that point, either the two chambers negotiate a compromise with the White House or the House will have to approve the CR that passed the Senate Wednesday night, which does not have $5 billion for the border wall, and send it to Trump for his signature.
Otherwise, a partial shutdown will occur.
President Trump will not travel Friday if there is a government shutdown, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Thursday.
He is scheduled to travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday for a two-week holiday break.
Where things stand now: The House on Thursday night passed a spending bill that includes an additional $5 billion for Trump's border wall. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be dead on arrival due to opposition over the border wall money.
President Trump “made clear” he would not sign a bill to keep government open without border money, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.
“The House has passed a bill, the Senate has passed a bill, and now we have to find where common ground lies," McCarthy said.
Asked if the House will still be in session during a possible shutdown, he said: “I do not want the government to shut down. So we have time to get the work done.”
The US House of Representatives passed legislation that funds President Trump’s $5 billion request for new border wall funds, attaching it to a must-pass spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be dead on arrival due to opposition over the border wall money.
The vote was 217-185.
Eight Republicans voted against the bill.
While the Senate passed a short-term spending bill Wednesday to keep parts of the government open through Feb. 8, the President refused to sign it on Thursday, demanding legislation that included money for a border wall and igniting a scramble to produce the bill that the House voted on Thursday night.
After the Senate rejects the House version as expected, it’s unclear yet whether the House will take up the original Senate version — which did not include border wall funds — as a last-ditch effort to avoid a shutdown.
The US House of Representatives has started voting on the revised continuing resolution that includes $5 billion in new money for the border wall and nearly $8 billion in disaster funds.
The Department of Homeland Security published its potential shutdown plans earlier this week, stating that during a federal funding hiatus or lapse in appropriations, it "must be able to cease its government operations in an orderly fashion."
Some DHS functions, like the Disaster Relief Fund, and fee-funded activities such as those funded by the Immigration Examinations Fee Account are except from the shutdown.
Other specific job functions, like top officials, active duty military, those detailed to the White House and anyone that is deemed necessary for the protection of human life and property may be exempt from furlough during a shutdown.
Examples are law enforcement, cargo inspection, the Secret Service and support of counter-terrorism.
Those jobs not exempt from furlough include, research and development activities, legislative, public affairs, and intergovernmental affairs and most training and development.
As of November, DHS had 245,405 employees, of whom 212,699 or nearly 90 percent are considered "essential" and are exempt from furlough in the event of a shutdown.
The House spending bill passed a rule that would allow a new amendment that includes $5 billion for the border wall to enter the final bill.
The rule passed on a party line vote of 221-179.
What that means: Lawmakers will debate for an hour, then hold a final vote on the continuing resolution after that.