Corker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), emerging from a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet 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 TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report 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 SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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 FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  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 MulvaneyTrump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan MORE on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseScalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran On The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes MORE (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan GOP struggles with retirement wave Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel Jordan Trump slams Democrats as 'shameful' after Lewandowski hearing Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader House Republicans want details on Democrats' trips to Mexico MORE (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerTo boost minority serving institutions, bipartisan Future Act needs immediate action Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision NCAA urges California governor not to sign 'fair pay' bill for college athletes 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.