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SHUTDOWN: Government Funding Frozen as Budget Deal Remains Elusive

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arrives at the Capitol on Jan. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government shut down as senators failed to reach a deal on a short-term stopgap budget measure that didn’t include any resolution for the rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A cloture vote to advance a monthlong continuing resolution to fund the government failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance, 50-49. Five Democrats voted to advance the bill: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and the newest member of the upper chamber, Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

Republicans voting against the measure were Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and, for procedural reasons that allow him to resurrect the bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

After the clock struck midnight, Senate Democrats and Republicans huddled on the floor, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appearing to lead conversation among Dems and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) crossing over to the Dem circle to join in. Soon after Corker crossed over, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) crossed over to talk with McConnell.

McConnell then read part of the statement from the White House on the Senate floor, which was dated Friday and sent out by the press secretary at midnight.

“Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

“When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform,” she added. “During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people.”

McConnell said Democrats “chose to filibuster a non-controversial funding bill that contains nothing they do not support.”

“What has it accomplished? The answer is simple — their very own government shutdown,” he said.

“We’ll vote again so the American people know who stands for them,” the majority leader vowed. He said the only reason for the shutdown was Democrats’ “shoehorning of illegal immigration into this debate” even though “there is a lot of sympathy in this body for doing something for the DACA kids” with a legislative deadline that “doesn’t even ripen until March.”

Schumer, who went to the White House earlier on Friday, said that “all of today we have endeavored to reach an agreement with President Trump” on issues like spending caps, disaster relief, children’s healthcare funding and immigration. He said he and Trump had a “lengthy and substantive” discussion in which Schumer “reluctantly put the border wall on the table for the president,” though ultimately “that wasn’t enough to entice” Trump.

“This afternoon, in my heart, I thought we may have a deal tonight … he did not press his party to accept it,” Schumer said, accusing Republicans of putting forward a bill “produced without an ounce of Democratic input and dropped in our laps.”

To Trump, Schumer said, “It’s almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown, and now you have one.”

“This will be called the Trump shutdown,” he declared, because Trump “walked away from two bipartisan deals.”

“What will it take for Trump to execute the rudiments of government?” Schumer asked. “…Instead of governing from the middle, he’s outsourced his presidency to extremes.”

Schumer called on Trump to “sit down immediately” with congressional leaders Saturday “and finish this deal so the entire government can get back to work on Monday.”

McConnell said he’d soon offer an amendment to move the expiration of the continuing resolution to Feb. 8, a “reasonable period” that he said moved closer to what Dems wanted. Republicans earlier rejected Democrats’ proposal for the CR to expire the day before Trump’s first State of the Union address on Jan. 30.

The 2013 government shutdown lasted for 16 days. This shutdown comes on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. He canceled a planned trip to Mar-a-Lago this weekend that was intended to mark the occasion.

A flurry of press releases blaming the other party for the shutdown were fired off in the first hour of the government standstill. #SchumerShutdown was trending on Twitter earlier in the evening; by the time the shutdown took effect, #TrumpShutdown was trending above it.

Congressional caucuses were scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Saturday to discuss the next steps.