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Corker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE (R-Tenn.), emerging from a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo 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 TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills 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 SchumerChuck SchumerHillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas 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 FlakeKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Tanden's path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable On The Money: What's next for Neera Tanden's nomination 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBottom line Ex-Trump chief of staff Priebus mulling Wisconsin governor bid In Marjorie Taylor Greene, a glimpse of the future MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble Feehery: How Republicans can win by focusing on schools Former RNC chair to Republicans looking for new Trump party: 'There's the door' MORE (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Judiciary split on how to address domestic extremism Connolly to GOP: I won't be lectured by those who voted to overturn the election MORE (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerNorth Carolina GOP condemns Burr for impeachment vote against Trump Madison Cawthorn throws support behind Mark Walker in NC Senate primary Democrat Jeff Jackson jumps into North Carolina Senate race 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.