Congress is scrambling to find a deal to end the US government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Photo: Al Drago-Pool/ Getty Images.

After the Senate failed to pass a funding bill Friday night, the federal government is now in a partial shutdown.
The two parties in the Senate failed to reach an agreement on immigration, funding, healthcare, or the timing of a shutdown delay.
The Senate will reconvene at 12 p.m. ET to continue their work, while the House is on standby in case a bill passes that needs another vote.

The federal government is currently in a partial shutdown after the Senate failed to pass a funding bill late Friday night.

Deliberations between the Democratic and Republican party leaderships are ongoing in an attempt to re-open the government, but the two sides are also engaged in a nasty blame game over the funding fight.

It’s unclear just how close the parties are to a deal, but both the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on Saturday to continue their work.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are left locked out of their jobs and unsure of when their next paycheck will arrive.

What happened last night

Shortly after midnight, the Office of Management and Budget sent a memo to federal agencies directing them to initiate contingency plans due to the failure of the Senate to pass a bill funding the government.

This officially kicked off the government shutdown, but was also the culmination of a wild day of negotiations.

Democrats held a significant number of the cards in the shutdown fight since the House-passed funding bill, called a continuing resolution (CR), needed 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell worked throughout the day to try and come to an agreement on a range of issues and avoid the shutdown, but in the end a deal never came.

Schumer even went to the White House to negotiate a deal with President Donald Trump directly. According to Schumer, the two men agreed to a wide-ranging deal on everything from immigration to military funding.

The deal included funding for Trump’s border wall, said Schumer, in exchange for the codification of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA, which protects roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors from deportation, was the key sticking point for Democrats.

Trump announced that he would end the program in September, but gave Congress until March to codify it into law. Democrats attempted to force a vote on the DACA issue as part of a funding deal to increase its chances of passage.

Despite reaching a deal, Schumer said Trump and the GOP reneged on the offer soon after the Democrat returned to Congress, scuttling a grand bargain.

With the Trump-Schumer deal dead, Democrats and many Republicans scrambled to agree to a shorter-term CR than the one offered by the House. The House bill extended the shutdown deadline until February 16, and Democrats wanted a bill that kept the government open for five days in order to get a deal on DACA and more.

Republicans counter-offered with a delay until February 8, which Democrats rejected. In the end no deal was reached, most Democrats and a handful of Republicans rejected the House bill, and the shutdown began.

Moving forward

Work to re-open the government began almost as soon as the funding lapsed, with lawmakers from both parties conferring on the Senate floor about a deal until after 1 a.m. ET.

With no agreement yet in place, the Senate will reconvene at 12 p.m. ET, and a vote on the February 8 deadline proposal will occur shortly following the resumption of business.

Members from both parties seemed open to the February 8 deadline, and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham — who voted against the House-passed CR — was optimistic on Saturday morning.

“After extensive discussions with senators on both sides of the aisle, I believe such a proposal would pass if there was a commitment that after February 8th the Senate would move to an immigration debate with an open amendment process if no alternative agreement was reached with the White House and House of Representatives,” Graham said in a statement.

Any deal that makes changes to the House-passed funding measure will require a new vote on changes by the House.

Anticipating a new deal, the House leaderships told their members to stay close for the weekend and the chamber will also be in session on Saturday.

Blame game

While the two sides are attempting to work toward a deal, leaders from each party are also hurling insults and blaming the other for the current predicament.

Trump took to his usual platform of Twitter on Saturday morning to sarcastically thank the Democrats for the shutdown.

“This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present,” President Donald Trump tweeted, ” # DemocratShutdown.”

Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence and McConnell launched their own attacks on Saturday blaming the Democrats for shutting down the government over illegal immigration.

Democrats, on the other hand, pointed out that this will be the first time that a government shuts down and sends employees on furlough in the modern budget era when one party controls the House, Senate, and White House. Republicans pointed out that Democrats were needed to get the Senate bill over a filibuster.

Democrats also said that a larger deal could have been possible if not for Trump, whom Schumer blamed for the dysfunction.

“This will be called the Trump shutdown,” Schumer said. “This will be called the Trump shutdown because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in other than President Trump.”

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