Shutdown grinds into workweek after Senate fails to clinch deal

Greg Nash

The shutdown is barreling into the workweek after senators failed late Sunday to clinch a deal to reopen the government.

The impact of the closure is set to dramatically increase starting Monday. Hundreds of thousands of government employees face possible furloughs, some federal functions could cease and it remains to be seen whether public museums and tourist attractions will remain open.

“It gets a lot more real when the week starts,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told reporters. “The longer these things drag on, the harder it gets.”

But there is optimism that the shutdown, now entering its third day, could end soon.

{mosads}The Senate at noon on Monday is set to take a procedural vote on a government funding bill that would last for roughly three weeks, until Feb. 8.

Democrats are mulling whether to support that bill after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered his assurances late Sunday that the chamber would take up immigration legislation, regardless of whether the issue is addressed in a yearlong funding package.

“Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on Feb. 8, 2018, assuming the government remains open, it would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security and related issues,” McConnell said on Sunday night, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA, an Obama-era program that allows certain immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as children to work and go to school in U.S., has been at the center of the shutdown talks. President Trump is ending the program, arguing the Obama administration did not have the authority to create it.

McConnell’s comments appeared to reflect the work of a bipartisan group of senators that met on Sunday to discuss a possible path to getting 60 votes for a government funding bill.

Still, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) cautioned that a deal was not yet done.

“We have had several conversations, talks will continue, but we have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides,” Schumer said after he blocked a GOP effort to set up a vote for Sunday night on the three-week funding bill.

For now, it’s up to the Trump administration to begin carrying out the first full-scale shutdown of the government since 2013.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is encouraging federal agencies to use available funds to keep operating as a way to keep more programs running as usual.

And the administration is also taking steps to minimize the impact by leaving parks or other federal functions open that were shuttered during the 2013 closure.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) predicted the full-fledged shutdown wouldn’t be as dramatic as it was during the Obama administration.

“I think the impact would be much less and much different than ’13 when President Obama deliberately tried to inconvenience the American public,” Collins said.

“Unlike ’13, when Obama weaponized the shutdown, President Trump is not doing that. The World War II memorial’s open, the [National] Mall is open.”

The shutdown was barely noticeable over the weekend, when most public-facing government offices are closed.

The situation grows more complicated on Monday morning, when hundreds of thousands of federal workers have to figure out whether to report to work.

About half of the Department of Health and Human Services’s staff will be furloughed. The Food and Drug Administration will have to pause activities like food safety inspections.

Military operations will continue and “essential” civilian personnel at the Defense Department will continue working, but they won’t get paid until the shutdown is over.

Americans will also still be able to visit national parks, unlike in 2013, and the Smithsonian museums and National Zoo are expected to open on Monday. They will give updates on their status beyond that “as they know.”

But many National Park Service staffers will be furloughed, meaning that services like trash removal and restroom cleaning will be on hold.

Many grants and permits requiring federal action would stall, while passport processing could start to wind down.

Senators often invoked the worst aspects of the shutdown as they worked through the weekend, raising hopes that they would be able to lock down a deal on Sunday.

“I think everybody who I’ve talked to thinks it’s important to get government open as quickly as possible. We would have liked to do that Friday. We would have liked to do that Saturday. We would like to do that today,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) told reporters.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) added that “one of the things we learned from the last shutdown is as things go on positions harden. … Resolution gets more difficult the longer we wait.”

But a bipartisan push for a Sunday night deal ultimately fell short, with Schumer and McConnell unable to nail down an agreement.

The two parties engaged in an intense messaging war all weekend over who was to blame for the shutdown, which began when the majority of Democrats and some Republicans rejected a short-term funding bill that did not address DACA or government spending caps.

Democrats blamed Trump for the lack of a deal, with Schumer quipping that negotiating with the president is “like negotiating with Jell-O.”

Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of hypocritically holding the country hostage to please their liberal base.

Given the tensions, it’s not clear whether there will be 60 votes to end debate on the three-week funding bill, either.

Five Democrats supported the mid-February funding bill that the Senate easily rejected last week, and it’s possible that some other Democrats — particularly red-state Democrats up for reelection this year — could flip and support the new package.

A spokesman for Schumer declined to discuss Democrats’ remaining reservations about the deal offered by McConnell, saying they wouldn’t negotiate through the press.

Both Senate caucuses are expected to meet on Monday. And there are some signs of progress that indicated McConnell is closer to having 60 votes by the new noon deadline.

A bipartisan group, which includes nearly a dozen Democrats, have been discussing a potential solution and pitching their ideas to leadership. They will meet again on Monday morning.

“A fair amount of my day was spent in one-on-one meetings with different senators who were not sitting at the table and are either really opposed … or really not engaged on the immigration debate from the other caucus and just trying to get a sense of what’s possible,” said Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.).

In another boost to McConnell, he picked up the support of Graham and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) for the three-week continuing resolution. Both Republican senators voted with Democrats against the House measure last week, giving them bipartisan cover.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — who met with McConnell, Graham and Flake on Sunday night — described himself as “optimistic” that the shutdown will soon end despite the funding fight getting kicked to Monday.

“On balance, it’s better to have a successful vote tomorrow at noon than a failed vote tonight,” he said.

Tags Charlie Dent Chris Collins Christopher Coons Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Heidi Heitkamp Jeanne Shaheen Jeff Flake John Cornyn Mick Mulvaney Mitch McConnell

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video