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 McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (N.Y.) are expected to enter into the agreement on the Senate floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers 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 telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says Democrats shouldn't use debt ceiling as leverage MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump: 'We already started' talks to get A$AP Rocky home from Sweden Kim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail MORE on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Memo: Fears of violence grow amid Trump race storm Democrats call for increased security after 'send her back' chants Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel Jordan10 questions for Robert Mueller DOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote MORE (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally 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.