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.


After it concluded, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyJan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 11, including Pierson, other rally organizers 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 HoyerMaryland Democrats target lone Republican in redistricting scheme GOP leader's marathon speech forces House Democrats to push vote Overnight Energy & Environment — Land agency move hurt diversity: watchdog 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.