Congress failed to avert a partial government shutdown on Friday and doesn’t appear to have a clear path forward as lawmakers continue to squabble over funding for President TrumpDonald TrumpClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' Sinema reignites 2024 primary chatter amid filibuster fight Why not a Manchin-DeSantis ticket for 2024? MORE’s border wall.
Senate negotiators from both parties agreed to keep talking in search of an elusive spending deal as the House and Senate adjourned Friday night without an agreement to avoid at least a partial shutdown starting at midnight.
White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook Jan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision MORE, who is also serving as Trump's acting chief of staff, sent a memo to federal agencies instructing them to begin executing plans for a shutdown starting Saturday.
"Although we are hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration, employees should report to work for their next regularly scheduled tour of duty to undertake orderly shutdown activities. We will issue another memorandum reopening government functions once the President has signed a bill providing for appropriations," he wrote.
Top White House officials descended on the Capitol on Friday to huddle with Republican leaders in an eleventh-hour search for a breakthrough, but the modest progress wasn’t enough to keep roughly a quarter of the federal government running, resulting in the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees just three days before Christmas.
Agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Treasury, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency are all slated to be impacted by the expiring funding.
Trump attempted to reverse course on Friday and blame Democrats for the probable shutdown after the House passed a bill that included $5 billion for his border wall the previous night. The measure was considered dead on arrival in the Senate.
"The majority has acted, the majority sent it to the Senate. In the Senate it takes 60 votes — so it really comes down to one person: Schumer,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyGOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 MORE (R-Calif.) told reporters, referring to the Senate Democratic leader.
“Does Schumer want to shut the government down or does he want to make sure we find a compromise? Just a couple of weeks ago he was fine with doing border security. And now he's got a problem with it?" McCarthy said.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, said Trump was the only one to blame for the legislative impasse after he said in a meeting last week with top Democrats that he'd “take the mantle” of a shutdown over his border wall.
The lapse in funding comes amid two days of chaos on Capitol Hill after the president asserted he wouldn't support a bill that didn't include funding for his wall.
Senate Republicans expressed frustration and disbelief at that decision, noting they passed a stopgap measure that didn't include the funding because the White House had previously signaled Trump would sign such a bill.
But Trump, under fire from conservative lawmakers and pundits, reversed course Thursday after a meeting with top House Republicans at the White House.
Vice President Pence, Mulvaney and senior White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKushner investment firm raises more than B: report Trump: Netanyahu 'never wanted peace' with Palestinians Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah MORE met with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerKyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy, and the politics of rage Joe Biden's disastrous 48 hours Biden's desperate pitch to keep minority voters MORE (D-N.Y.) in an attempt to find a path forward on Friday afternoon.
Pence and Mulvaney then huddled with McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSupreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 House Republicans call for oversight into Biden's 'failed' COVID-19 response MORE (R-La.), House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTucker Carlson extends influence on GOP Jan. 6 panel asks McCarthy to cooperate Clay Aiken running again for Congress because North Carolina representatives 'don't represent me' MORE (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Democrats' struggle for voting rights bill comes to a head GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel McCarthy says he won't cooperate with 'illegitimate' Jan. 6 probe MORE (R-Ohio) in outgoing Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office off the House floor.
Following the meeting, McCarthy announced that no votes were scheduled for Saturday, telling lawmakers they will be provided 24 hours' notice before a vote is called.
The House and the Senate both adjourned Friday night, without a deal to avert the shutdown.
McCarthy said he’s advising members to stay in town as they wait for the Senate to take action, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSinema reignites 2024 primary chatter amid filibuster fight Biden's new calls to action matter, as does the one yet to come Trump to make election claims center stage in Arizona MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters as he left the Capitol on Friday night that "constructive talks are underway."
The Senate on Friday voted to take up the House-passed spending bill, but lawmakers said they were doing so only to make room for further negotiations and to allow talks to continue in good faith.
Senators emphasized that the chamber won't vote on another spending bill unless it's one that Democrats and the White House can agree on.
Scalise echoed McCarthy’s sentiments on Friday, arguing the fate of the government reopening lays in the hands of the upper chamber and the White House.
“The president's been open to negotiating. What exactly would those other alternatives be to the bill we passed? That's up to the folks that aren't in agreement with what we passed,” Scalise told The Hill. “I mean we laid out a plan for keeping the government running — if they've got a better plan they should go talk to the president and get an agreement.”
Senate Democrats have been clear they will not support legislation that includes $5 billion for the wall. And while conservatives have been adamant in their calls to meet Trump’s demand, some have expressed openness to supporting a measure that provides $1.6 billion — a figure that is being weighed by members in the upper chamber.
While lawmakers appeared to be on track to recess for the remainder of the year after the Senate on Wednesday passed a stopgap measure that would keep the government funded through Feb. 8, House conservatives amped up pressure on members of their party to reject any measure that doesn’t include the $5 billion.
In a series of special order speeches Wednesday evening, members of the House Freedom Caucus announced they would support the president in vetoing a clean continuing resolution, arguing Congress faces a narrow path in securing border wall funding come January when House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' King family to march for voting rights in Arizona before MLK Day GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel MORE (Calif.) likely regains the Speaker’s gavel.
House Republicans managed to pass an amended stopgap measure easily that included $5.7 billion in border security and wall funding and $8.7 billion in emergency disaster aid in a 217-185 vote on Thursday night, despite speculation they did not have the votes.
But the House-passed version faced a nearly impossible path in the Senate. Republicans in the upper chamber also quickly rejected a call from Trump for McConnell to "go nuclear" and eliminate the legislative filibuster in order pass the amended measure.
Congress passed five appropriations bills in September, which covered about 75 percent of its annual spending. Those bills provided a combined $1 trillion in funding for the Pentagon and Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch, among others. The funded departments will not be affected by a shutdown.
The expiring stopgap measure covered the seven remaining bills, which add up to $325 billion in annual spending. Once the funding expires, the related agencies will have to cease operating except for staff and programs deemed "essential."
— Niv Elis contributed. Updated Dec. 22 at 12:01 a.m.