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No GOP appetite for a second shutdown

Senate Republicans are signaling they will do just about anything to prevent a second shutdown after the White House was widely seen as badly losing the political fight over the closure that ended with President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE’s retreat on Friday.

Republicans are in no mood to be dragged back into another partial closure in mid-February, the deadline to get a deal on spending for roughly a quarter of the government.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE (R-Ky.), modifying a well-known quote, told reporters Tuesday that “there certainly would be no education in the third kick of the mule.”

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“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody, and I hope that they would be avoided,” McConnell said. “I’m for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the president feeling that he should declare a national emergency.”

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote Parliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, characterized a shutdown as a “pox on all of our houses.”

“I think the leader wants to see a result come from this,” said Thune. “There’s no appetite for government shutdowns and there is not much appetite for an emergency declaration for a lot of reasons.”

The wariness on Capitol Hill comes as Republicans emerge from a bruising, 35-day funding fight where they watched a majority of Americans in poll after poll blame the GOP and Trump for the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The White House, however, has kept open the possibility of a repeat shutdown, just as spending negotiations are set to formally kick off Wednesday. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters this week that she would not “get into the hypotheticals of taking that off the table.”

Senate GOP leaders stuck with the president over the fight for his proposed border wall, a key 2016 campaign issue for Trump that remains a potent force among the party’s base. But the threat of another government shutdown could test their unity, especially after six GOP senators voted for a Democratic-backed continuing resolution last week that didn’t include wall funding and after Republicans blistered Vice President Pence during a closed-door lunch.

“There is a building consensus on both sides of the aisle that shutdowns don’t make sense and that we ought to put legislative prohibitions in place to keep us from ever shutting down again,” Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFive takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing On The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote MORE (R-Ohio) said Tuesday.

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Republicans, aware of the political challenges of getting a final funding deal, are stopping short of predicting there will not be a shutdown starting Feb. 16.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Ala.) said he is “cautious, guarded, anxious.”

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE (R-W.Va.), one of the 17 lawmakers on the conference committee tasked with crafting spending legislation to avert a shutdown, told a West Virginia radio station that while an agreement “wouldn’t be easy” it also wasn’t “impossible.”

Getting a deal that breaks the stalemate between Trump, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief Biden urges Democrats to advocate for rescue package MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (D-N.Y.) will be no small task. Trump has insisted on $5.7 billion for a border wall, and Democratic leaders have indicated they won’t meet his demand.

Democrats are feeling bullish after Trump agreed to temporarily reopen the government without a guarantee on border funding, and they’ll face pressure from their base to draw a hard line. Meanwhile conservatives, angry over last week’s deal, want Trump to make good on his campaign pledge of building the wall.

“I’m very hopeful. I think that a good number of our Republican colleagues don’t want to shut down the government,” Schumer said. “You know, we’ll have to see if they’re willing to break from the president or if the president moves off his hard and fast position.”

Underscoring their eagerness to avoid a second shutdown, GOP senators are throwing out a myriad of ideas that they hope will entice Democrats to agree to more border funding, like attaching a potential debt ceiling increase or a long-sought fix to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients.

“I’ve always thought the bigger the project, a lot of things fit in and bring a lot of people to vote for something they might not vote for ordinarily,” Shelby said. “Other people would argue that the narrower the scope, you’re just dealing with the essentials.”

McConnell, meanwhile, refused to shoot down adding unrelated issues to a funding agreement, saying he’s for “narrow or broader,” whichever can result in a deal that can clear Congress and that Trump sign.

“Exactly how to do that, as you all know, has been quite challenging,” he said. “I’m for whatever works.”

But trying to attach a DACA fix to a long-term funding deal would likely open up a Pandora’s box of other immigration issues, including the fate of some temporary protected status (TPS) holders and cuts to legal immigration sought by Trump.

Democrats are skeptical of tying in comprehensive immigration reform, arguing the president can’t be trusted to keep his word. Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role Senate coronavirus bill delayed until Thursday MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and a member of the conference committee, told reporters Tuesday that he did not think a larger immigration deal was on the table.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats introduce bill providing citizenship to Dreamers On The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief MORE (D-Md.) said that Democrats would soon bring bills to the floor dealing with DACA and TPS, but he doesn’t foresee them being discussed in the conference committee.

“I don’t expect that to be part of the negotiations. I expect, as normal conference committees are, they’re going to talk about how to achieve the objectives,” Hoyer told reporters Tuesday, adding that the objective is to “secure borders.”

Democrats also appeared to reject an idea floated by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHere's who Biden is now considering for budget chief House Democratic leaders back Shalanda Young for OMB after Tanden withdrawal The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump’s, of dropping the debt ceiling into the border negotiations. Schumer argued there shouldn’t be any more “hostages.”

“We ought to be negotiating to get an agreement, not add added elements into it,” he said.

The result, Thune predicted to reporters, could be a narrower agreement that resolves the border wall fight. Trump and Democrats remain far apart on the amount of funding.

In a potential sign of progress, both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump Harris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House MORE (N.Y.) indicated they were open to fencing that stopped short of a full-scale border wall.

“We do not support a medieval border wall from sea to shining sea. However, we are willing to support fencing where it makes sense,” Jeffries said. “But it should be done in an evidence-based fashion.”

Mike Lillis and Cristina Marcos contributed.

The negotiators
These 17 lawmakers are tasked with negotiating a deal on border security that would pave the way for passage of the seven remaining appropriations bills needed to fund a quarter of the government.

Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission AOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm MORE (D-Calif.)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)
Rep. Chuck FleischmannCharles (Chuck) Joseph FleischmannRep. Adriano Espaillat tests positive for COVID-19 Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Tenn.)
Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHere are the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Overnight Health Care: US sets record for daily COVID-19 deaths with over 3,800 | Hospitals say vaccinations should be moving faster | Brazilian health officials say Chinese COVID vaccine 78 percent effective MORE (R-Texas)
Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGreene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting McConnell says Taylor Greene's embrace of conspiracy theories a 'cancer' GOP has growing Marjorie Taylor Greene problem MORE (R-Ga.)
Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeePro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget Progressives push White House to overturn wage ruling Lawmakers, Martin Luther King III discuss federal responses to systematic racism MORE (D-Calif.)
Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency This week: Trump's grip on Hill allies faces test Trump signs .3T relief, spending package MORE (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Steven PalazzoSteven McCarty PalazzoEthics watchdog: 'Substantial' evidence GOP lawmaker improperly spent funds, misused position to help brother READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Arson suspected in destruction of Mississippi church that was suing over coronavirus restrictions MORE (R-Miss.)
Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene Price150 House Democrats support Biden push to reenter Iran nuclear deal House panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage MORE (D-N.C.)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHouse Democrats introduce bill providing citizenship to Dreamers Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Calif.)

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntFive takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Pentagon prevented immediate response to mob, says Guard chief MORE (R-Mo.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden reignites immigration fight in Congress McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-N.D.)
Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Press: The big loser: The Republican Party Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote MORE (D-Vt.)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterMellman: How the Senate decided impeachment Senate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mont.)