The government shutdown is over
Protesters packed the Senate's Hart Office building on Wednesday to protest the government shutdown.
Many held signs made out of paper plates, with slogans demanding an end to the shutdown so furloughed federal employees can go back to work.
Here's a look at the scene:
Capitol Police arrested protesters Wednesday in a hallway at the Russell Senate Office Building and outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office.
The protesters were demonstrating against the partial government shutdown.
The House passed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through Feb. 28, another attempt by Democrats to put pressure on Senate Republicans to reopen the government.
Today's action was a re-vote after Republicans accidentally helped Democrats pass the bill in a voice vote last week. The final vote count was 229-184.
But remember: The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the Senate.
President Trump is meeting with conservative leaders on his immigration proposal this afternoon.
An official said the meeting is expected to include former Attorney General for Virginia Ken Cuccinelli, National Review editor-in-chief Rich Lowry and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, among other figures.
The White House’s plan right now is to essentially dare House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to formally disinvite President Trump from addressing the nation.
Officials said they are planning to scale up pressure on Pelosi in the coming days to say one way or the other whether if he will be allowed to deliver the speech in the House Chamber. The hope is to force her hand — either to say he cannot speak from the House Chamber, or to allow it to move forward.
The White House hopes to throw into question her concerns about security, citing the Department of Homeland statements saying the United States Secret Service would be able to secure the venue, officials said. White House officials have also been driving that message during television appearances over the past 24 hours.
Why Trump wants an address (and not a rally): White House officials said they are hesitant to hold a campaign style rally instead of the State of the Union address because they realize it’s not formal enough to look like the traditional speech. The message they planned to deliver at the Capitol — even one shaped around the shutdown — would be much more tamped down than the President's usual rhetoric at a rally, where he often deviates from the script and works off the crowd.
It would also include other topic areas, like the economy and foreign policy, that might be hard to include in a speech on the border or in a political venue. And officials believe they have a positive message on both of those areas they want to break through.
Some officials believe a rally would just be seen as another campaign speech, which they acknowledge people have started to tune out. And there's a recognition it's harder to keep Trump on-message in a rally versus a more formal address. Officials also noted that networks rarely carry the rallies live.
The White House is looking at other venues: Right now, the White House is floating the idea of holding a rally outside Washington but not seriously, according to one official.
Officials have also looked again at the Oval Office and at other venues in the White House. The Oval Office is a tough sell for the President since he disliked the last one and the polls showed it changed zero people's minds. They like the East Room/Cross Hall and the Diplomatic Room. East Room would be easier to invite Republicans as an audience.
The White House just released a letter from President Trump to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding the State of the Union address.
The President said he will be “fulfilling my constitutional duty” and that he looks “forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives.”
Read the full letter below:
A White House official said the White House staff is continuing to look at a variety of options for President Trump’s speech next Tuesday, including speeches at the White House or perhaps outside of Washington. The official declined to shed light on what specifically is being discussed.
“If the speaker disinvites, all options are on table,” the official said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has not disinvited Trump from speaking at the US Capitol next Tuesday. However, last week, she sent Trump a letter asking him to postpone the speech until after the shutdown is over.
The official noted that there could be some wiggle room for Trump as a way out of the shutdown standoff. But the official warned Trump will not “cave” on the wall.
“He’ll deal, but not cave,” the official added.