Congress misses deadline to prevent shutdown

Congress misses deadline to prevent shutdown
© Greg Nash

Congress has missed a midnight deadline to prevent a government shutdown.

The Senate voted Friday night on a procedural motion to advance the House GOP's monthlong stopgap, but it failed to clear the 60 votes needed to advance on a mostly party-line vote. The vote remained open nearly two hours after it began as negotiations behind the scenes continued.

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After it concluded, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPolitical figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer Charles Krauthammer dies at the age of 68 Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE (R-Ky.) ripped Democrats for voting agains the bill. He later suggested the Senate may vote on a measure that would keep the government open for three weeks, instead of four weeks.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyFederal court rules consumer bureau structure unconstitutional White House releases sweeping proposal to reorganize government On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE issued a memorandum instructing agencies to begin a shutdown shortly after 1 a.m.

The memo said that because OMB does not have a clear signal from Congress that it will act to fund the government, it is necessary to execute plans "for an orderly shutdown" due to the absence of appropriations.

It said OMB would offer additional guidance as appropriate.

The closure will mark the first time that the government has been shuttered since 2013, when a shutdown carried on for 16 days as a band of Republicans tried to dismantle ObamaCare.

Republicans are blaming Senate Democrats for the impasse, arguing their refusal to agree to a one-month stopgap passed on a largely party-line vote in the House caused the shutdown.

Democrats say Republicans are to blame given their control of the White House and Congress and failure to work with Democrats.

Lawmakers and administration officials have largely downplayed the impact of the closure, insisting they would be able to reach a funding deal before the weekend's end.

If the closure only lasts through the weekend, much of the nation might not notice, as most public-facing government functions are closed for the weekend.

“If there is any good news: It’s a weekend,” House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse panel approves belated 2019 budget Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families MORE (D-Md.) told reporters Friday evening. “And certainly if we act [Saturday], as I think we could, and reach some compromises, then I think we could pass something before the weekend ends and the impact would be minimal.”

The Trump budget office said earlier on Friday that the administration has taken steps to minimize the impacts of a shutdown, accusing the Obama administration of weaponizing the 2013 government shutdown.

“We want folks to understand that it will look very different than it did under the Obama administration,” Mulvaney said.

Mulavaney noted that the parks, post offices and the Transportation Security Agency, for example, would all remain open.

But if the shutdown carries into Monday, people are more likely to notice.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees deemed “nonessential” either wouldn’t be allowed to report to work on Monday or would show up briefly to prepare their offices for the furlough.

Many grants and permits requiring federal action would stall.

Some services like passport processing and certain national park functions could start to wind down, or might be able to stay operational for a few days.

Some agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission, have funding that could keep them open for a few days or through the week. Then they would have to shut down.

Federal courts, for example, only have enough money to remain open through Feb. 9, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

And the Food and Drug Administration would be unable to continue its food safety inspections. The department plan said routine inspections, enforcement and the monitoring of food and drug imports would come to a standstill.

Timothy Cama and Lydia Wheeler contributed

This story was updated at 1:13 a.m. Saturday.