Congress starts first day of shutdown with modest hope

Lawmakers are returning to the Capitol on Saturday in the hopes of finding a deal to end the partial government shutdown that began at midnight, but major differences remain over funding for President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE's border wall.

The Senate and House convened at noon Saturday, but votes on a deal to reopen federal agencies next week may not happen until Sunday or later, guaranteeing that large swaths of the federal government will remain closed for at least a day.

White House officials and congressional leaders are expected to negotiate throughout the day Saturday after failing to reach a deal Friday night. Both chambers adjourned and lawmakers left the Capitol hours before the midnight deadline to avert a funding lapse.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.) announced on the Senate floor on Saturday that the talks would take place primarily between Trump and his team and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (N.Y.). 

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“We pushed the pause button until the president, from whom we will need a signature, and Senate Democrats, from whom we will need votes, reach an agreement,” he said. 

Senate leaders reached a procedural deal Friday to hold off from political messaging votes on re-opening the government until all sides reach a deal.

McConnell said he hoped an agreement would come in time to reopen federal agencies before Christmas. 

“It’s my hope that it’s reached sooner rather than later,” he said. 

Schumer, however, speaking on the floor shortly after McConnell insisted that the Senate GOP leader and House Republican leaders would also have to be at the center of the talks. 

“In order for an agreement to be reached, all four congressional leaders must sign off and the president must endorse it and say that he will sign it,” Schumer said, adding that GOP leaders “cannot duck responsibility.” 

“Leader McConnell can’t duck out of this process. He knows that,” Schumer added. “And most importantly the president must publicly support and say he’ll sign an agreement before it gets a vote in either chamber.” 

The House convened briefly at noon and then immediately recessed subject to the call of the chair. No votes are expected in the lower chamber Saturday. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCongress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention MORE (R-Calif.) told colleagues Friday evening that he would give them “ample” time to review an announced deal before holding a vote. Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseCheney clashes with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up MORE’s (R-La.) office also told members they would get 24-hours notice before a vote.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsFormer FBI Director William Sessions dies at age 90 Texas kicks off critical battle for House control The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine MORE (R-Texas), however, told reporters Saturday morning that any deal would likely be approved on the floor without a roll-call vote. 

“They’re not gonna pull people back,” Sessions told a small group of reporters as he wheeled his luggage through the Capitol en route to the airport.

The shutdown, which technically began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, affects about 25 percent of the federal government, including the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury, among others.

An estimated 380,000 federal employees will be furloughed during the shutdown while an estimated 420,000 employees will be required to work without pay, including Transportation Security Administration officials who are essential to keeping airports operating during the busy holiday travel season. 

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo Friday ordering agencies to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown due to the absence of appropriations.” 

Trump has sent mixed signals over how long the shutdown may last. 

The president warned Friday morning that it “will last for a very long time” but in a later video message released as it became clear a shutdown would happen the president said “the shutdown hopefully will not last long.” 

Many lawmakers from the East Coast have gone home for the weekend to districts in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Other lawmakers said they would traveling home Saturday morning after seeing no movement overnight.

Both sides have traded blame for the shutdown.

Trump tweeted on Friday that “Democrats now own the shutdown” and in his video message said “it’s really up to the Democrats because we need their votes.”  

He also announced he is hosting a lunch at the White House residence with a “large group concerning Border Security,” a sign that the president plans to hammer Democrats a while on the issue before signing off on a funding bill. 

Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBattle over reopening schools heats up Pelosi: Trump wearing a mask is 'an admission' that it can stop spread of coronavirus Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE (Calif.) issued a statement just after midnight declaring, “regrettably, America has now entered a Trump shutdown.”

"President Trump has said more than 25 times that he wanted a shutdown and now he has gotten what he wanted," they said.

Senate Republicans, who are eager to quickly end the standoff and get out of town, are pushing a deal that would provide $1.6 billion in funding for border fencing — an amount that Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to earlier this year — but they have dropped a proposal to give Trump an additional $1 billion in funding for immigration-related matters. 

A Republican senator familiar with the latest round of offers to Democrats say their latest would provide $1.6 billion for border fencing “and other things” but drop the catch-all spending account that Schumer has panned as a “slush fund.”

Schumer endorsed the $1.6 billion funding level for border fencing immediately after Thanksgiving but later backed off the number after coming under pressure from House Democrats. He told reporters last week that “the $1.6 [billion] we believe could not pass the House."

House Democratic Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew House Democrat calls for 'real adult discussion' on lawmaker pay MORE (Md.) on Saturday said a deal could hinge on whether extra funding is designated for border fencing or more generally for border security.

“It ought to be pretty clear to the president that he doesn’t have the votes for a wall, he does have votes for strengthening border security through technological means, personnel means, in another number of ways. And that’s not going to change between now and whenever,” Hoyer told Fox News. 

“It would I think be in the best interest of the country and I think the best interest of the president and Congress if we come to agreement in the next 24, 48 hours,” he added. 

Recognizing the possibility of a deal may hinge on semantics, Trump has started to shift his language away from imagery of a solid wall, which Democrats say is a non-starter, to the concept of “steel slats.”

Trump on Friday tweeted an illustration of a “Steel Slat Barrier” that he touted as “totally effective while at the same time beautiful.”

Schumer on Saturday called on Trump to altogether drop his demand for a border wall. 

“President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple. The Senate’s not interested in swindling American taxpayers for an unnecessary, ineffective and wasteful policy,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. 

“What we do support, Democrats and Republicans, is real effective border security but not a wall. The wall is President Trump’s bone to the hard right,” he added. 

Schumer said Democrats “are also open to discussing any proposals with the president as long as they don’t include funding for the wall.” 

Trump’s negotiating team — Vice President Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says | Supreme Court rules that large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribe WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says  Mulvaney: Trump faces difficulty if 2020 election becomes 'referendum' on him MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump: 'Shouldn't be hard' for Kanye West to take away votes from Biden Trump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' On The Money: Supreme Court upholds NY prosecutors' access to Trump's tax returns, rebuffs Congress | Trump complains of 'political prosecution' | Biden rebukes Trump, rolls out jobs plan MORE — spent Friday afternoon shuttling between the offices of Schumer and outgoing Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) to lay the groundwork of an agreement. 

There’s skepticism that House conservatives would embrace $1.6 billion for border fencing as an acceptable compromise, but some GOP lawmakers are eager for any marginal improvement to the $1.3 billion 2018 funding level for border fencing that would end the shutdown. 

The talks have been complicated by uncertainty over what Trump, who has zigzagged in the past week, would be willing to sign into law.

“The biggest problem is we just don’t know what the president will sign,” said Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.), who on Friday helped broker a procedural deal mandating that the next government funding proposal considered on the Senate floor will have prior signoff from Trump, Senate Republican and Democratic leaders, and the House GOP leadership. 

GOP lawmakers recognize they’ll have less leverage when Democrats take control of the House majority in January. 

“In my business, something’s better than nothing,” Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsLawmaker-linked businesses received PPP loans Rhode Island moves toward changing its official name over slavery connotations Financial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era MORE (R-Texas) said when asked about accepting a border fencing funding number well under the $5.7 billion provided by the House Thursday. 

— Mike Lillis, Scott Wong and Melanie Zanona contributed.

Updated: 1:22 p.m.