Senate headed for Monday vote on bill to reopen government
The Senate has failed to reach a deal to prevent the government shutdown from pushing into the workweek.
A flurry of activity on Capitol Hill had stoked hopes that a deal to end the shutdown might be reached before furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers kick in on Monday.
Instead, the Senate is now set to vote at noon on Monday to end debate on a measure that would fund the government through Feb. 8.
It’s not clear whether the measure will garner the 60 votes needed to end debate, however, given opposition from Senate Democrats.
At the same time, there were some signs of progress, and the noon vote becomes a new deadline for ending the shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set up the noon vote after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) objected to a request for unanimous consent to hold that vote earlier.
“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 on the Senate floor.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) appeared relatively optimistic after McConnell set up the noon vote.
“On balance, it’s better to have a successful vote tomorrow at noon than a failed vote tonight,” he said.
Asked what the delay was about, he said Schumer “wants to just give everybody a chance to chew on it, and sort of understand it and that’s why he didn’t want to have the vote tonight.”
“I think it just takes a little while for people to absorb what’s happened here and get out of their bunker,” he said.
In his remarks, McConnell said that he would bring up immigration legislation next month if negotiators can’t work out a larger deal on immigration by Feb. 8.
“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 program.
That Obama-era program, which allows certain immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as children to work and go to school here, has been at the center of the shutdown talks. President Trump is ending the program, arguing former President Obama did not have 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.
As part of those talks, the senators considered a commitment by Republicans to move to immigration if a deal is not reached by Feb. 8.
That bipartisan group is expected to meet on Monday morning.
But it’s unclear if McConnell’s remarks will be enough to win over Democrats, who appear both skeptical of commitments from the majority leader and the Trump administration.
“I mean there have been a lot of promises made to different senators and not followed through on by the majority leader,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said.
He added that he would be “leery” of anything short of a promise with “extremely, extremely clear details.”
Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), who is a member of the bipartisan group, noted that there was a deficit of trust on both sides of the aisle.
“But, there are good reasons why there is a real lack of trust from both caucuses,” he said.
Updated: 10:08 p.m.
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