WASHINGTON — The federal government entered a partial shutdown late Friday night as a key vote was far short from having the support needed to pass and the midnight deadline came and went.
The vote was held open for nearly an hour as Senate leaders sought to find a way out of the impasse that brought them to this moment. Senators milled around the floor as Washington waited for word of where Congress goes from here.
Senate Democrats, demanding progress on the fate of those covered by the DACA program, huddled just off the Senate floor for more than hour prior the vote, after prospects of an agreement between Democrats, Republicans and the White House had already fallen apart.
Democrats left an earlier caucus meeting stone-faced with few answers, but they placed the blame on Republicans and President Donald Trump for walking away from negotiations.
How a government shutdown will affect you
Schumer presented a proposal to break the logjam to President Donald Trump in a mid-day meeting at the White House, according to multiple Democrats — a plan to fund the government over the next two years, including money for disaster aid, the low-income children’s health insurance program, opioid funding, border security and relief for those Dreamers covered by DACA.
“I think Senator Schumer tried very hard to reach a responsible compromise on a wide-range of topics,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said.
“We discussed all of the major outstanding issues, we made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue,” Schumer said immediately after the meeting.
The spending bill that failed in Friday’s vote was the one passed by the House Thursday, which would have funded the government until Feb. 16, extended the low-income children’s health insurance program, or CHIP, for six years and suspended some Obamacare taxes for two years.
Democrats withheld their support, demanding more progress on a Dreamers while some Republicans, frustrated with the spate of month-long spending bills, opposed any short-term solution.
Friday night, Trump tweeted about an impending shutdown.
Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2018
The day began with a high-stakes game of chicken and the president signaling that a shutdown was possible.
“Government Funding Bill past [sic] last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders,” he tweeted. “Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”
House Whip Steve Scalise’s office told members to remain “flexible” in case the Senate passed a spending bill that differed from the House version, requiring the House to consider it anew.
Schumer also proposed a shorter stop-gap measure, lasting just four or five days, to be used as a hard deadline on an agreement on government spending levels and DACA.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who opposed the 30-day spending bill on the table said he was willing to support a three-week one. “We’re inside the 10 yard line on five issues we need a process to close the deal. And we need the president to do it,” Graham said.
McConnell and Republicans claimed that Democrats were blocking health care for children. On the Senate floor he said Schumer is leading “his own troops into a box canyon and then tells them it was all for nothing. Maybe it’s time to come back to reality.”
Senators spent the day waiting for an update and contemplating which party would get blamed for a shutdown. And both parties claim that the crisis is manufactured — by the other side.
“I don’t understand why amnesty for DACA residents is an emergency. Nobody is being deported,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., called the Republican bill “irresponsible.”
“I’m not going to vote for this. It’s very irresponsible. It doesn’t do what this country needs at all,” Tester said.
At the White House Friday morning, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney briefed the press on the administration’s preparations for a shutdown, saying, “we do not want a shutdown, but if Mr. Schumer insists on it, he is in a position to force this on the American people.”
With the finger-pointing over who would be responsible already underway, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 48 percent of Americans would blame President Trump and Republicans for a shutdown while 28 percent said they would blame Democrats and 18 percent said both parties would be at fault.