Corker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerEx-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' Pollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge GOP gets used to saying 'no' to Trump MORE (R-Tenn.), emerging from a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Watchdog clears defense chief in ethics probe | Pentagon to handle security background checks | Senate to take up Trump's Yemen veto next week Senate to take up Trump's Yemen veto next week A new age for tobacco — raising the age to 21 is a smart move MORE’s (R-Ky.) office, said Friday that Senate leaders have an “agreement” on how to proceed on a House-passed measure funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpPresenting the 2020 Democratic bracket The time has come for the Democrats to act, finally DHS expedites border wall replacement in Arizona, Texas MORE’s border wall. 

Corker cautioned that it’s an agreement on process only, but expressed hope it could ultimately lead to a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown set to begin at the end of the day Friday.

McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage MORE (N.Y.) are expected to enter into the agreement on the Senate floor.

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“This is will be an agreement between McConnell and Schumer about what next happens on the Senate floor. You’ll see them to enter into a little discussion,” Corker said. “It charts the course forward that gives us the best chance of actually coming to a solution.”

Corker said it could avert a government shutdown.

“Some of the folks at the White House seem to be optimistic,” he said, adding that Trump “is very aware of what’s happening.” 

Corker said the preliminary deal was agreed to in a background meeting that included himself, McConnell, Schumer and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family MORE (R-Ariz.). The Republican and Democratic Senate secretaries, Laura Dove and Gary Myrick, also attended. 

The potential breakthrough comes after Schumer met with Vice President Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May | Mexico now biggest US trading partner | Mulvaney defends record on cutting spending Mulvaney on government spending: 'At least I'm losing at the very highest levels' House eyes vote on reversing Mulvaney efforts to rein in consumer bureau MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMore than M in legal fees spent by Trump reelection campaign since taking office Overnight Defense: Watchdog clears defense chief in ethics probe | Pentagon to handle security background checks | Senate to take up Trump's Yemen veto next week Defense Department to take over background investigations for federal government MORE on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure This week: Democrats revive net neutrality fight MORE (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOn The Money: House to vote on bipartisan retirement bill in May | Mexico now biggest US trading partner | Mulvaney defends record on cutting spending Mulvaney on government spending: 'At least I'm losing at the very highest levels' The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDems digging into Trump finances post-Mueller Overnight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe MORE (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Colorado state senators plan to introduce bill to let NCAA athletes get paid Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave MORE (R-N.C.).

Corker warned that the danger of a partial government shutdown is not completely gone. 

"It's just how we're going to proceed in a manner that we think is best," he said. "The first discussion is not substance, it's process." 

Action on a government funding bill has been stalled since shortly after noon on Friday, when the Senate began voting on a motion to proceed to a House-passed measure funding government until Feb. 8 and providing $5.7 billion for a border wall. 

The vote has remained open for nearly five hours – locked at 43 votes for proceeding to the House bill and 45 votes against, a few votes short of the number needed to move ahead.

Corker has held back from voting and Flake was the only Republican to vote against it.

Senators who had already departed Washington for the Christmas break have been returning to town throughout the day to vote. 

Updated: 5:25 p.m.