McConnell: Senate will be back Sunday and "as long as it takes"

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By: CBS News
January 20, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said late Saturday that the Senate will vote at 1 a.m. Monday on a three-week continuing resolution to fund the government after a day of lawmakers playing the blame game on Capitol Hill for the shutdown. McConnell said the Senate would return Sunday and "as long as it takes" to come to an agreement.

Negotiations appeared virtually stalled on Capitol Hill late Saturday, as Republicans and Democrats hold firm to their positions after a government shutdown went into effect Saturday at midnight.

Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the shutdown, holding press conferences and giving speeches throughout the day. Republicans are framing it as a "Schumer shutdown," While Democrats are calling it a "Trump shutdown."

McConnell asked for unanimous consent to begin consideration of a three-week spending bill — shorter than the four-week spending bill the Senate failed to vote on Friday night — but Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, rejected that move, continuing the shutdown. McConnell objected to a measure from Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, to continue paying federal workers during the shutdown. In the House, disagreement became so intense that when Republicans attempted to use a poster of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as a prop, Democrats objected and the Senate held a vote on whether Republicans could use the poster.

Marc Short, director of White House legislative affairs, asked by CBS News chief White House correspondent when he thinks a vote will be, said, "I think tomorrow. That's my thinking." But his guess is probably as good as anyone's, as Saturday draws to a close. As the sun set on Washington on Mr. Trump's inauguration anniversary, the president tweeted there is "unprecedented success" for our country.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters Saturday in a White House briefing that Democrats shut down the government because the Trump administration accomplished too much in its first year. Short said earlier in the day the White House would not be open to discussing fixes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while the government is shutdown. Meanwhile, Democrats are determined to find an immigration fix, with time running out before the program's protections end March 5.

"They look at the accomplishments of the last year, and all this administration has accomplished, and their reaction is, because we can't beat them, we're going to shut down the government," Short told reporters.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service made announcements Saturday that parks would be unmanned, or closed, due to the lapse in funding. The Statue of Liberty was included in that. A handful of members of Congress, including Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia said they are forfeiting their pay for the remainder of the shutdown.

Mr. Trump, who has not made a public appearance other than through tweets since the shutdown, has officially canceled his scheduled trip to Mar-a-Lago, where he was supposed to celebrate his first year in office with a party that cost $100,000 per couple to attend. "This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present. #DemocratShutdown," the president tweeted early Saturday morning. The president, who has been relatively quiet and made no public appearances outside of tweeting, has been speaking to members of his own party, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. But the White House called a travel and photo lid shortly after 4 p.m., meaning the White House expects no more activity on its end Saturday. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, asked by reporters what he'd heard from the president that day, said, nothing.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, blamed Mr. Trump in a Saturday afternoon press conference, saying the president kept shifting his positions on what he wanted out of a deal, and what he would agree to in the final hours before the shutdown.

"Negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O. It's impossible," Schumer said.

Schumer said it's, "next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can't stick to the terms. I have found this out. Leader McConnell has found this out. Speaker Ryan has found this out."

But Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, in the White House briefing with Short, said Schumer wasn't entirely truthful in his depiction of conversations with the president, suggesting he wasn't willing to offer much border wall funding at all. Mulvaney's office is responsible for implementing logistics in the shutdown. "In fact I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts down the government is me, which is kind of cool," Mulvaney said on The Sean Hannity Show Friday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats held a post-caucus meeting press conference late Saturday morning, hours after the Senate failed to reach an agreement on government funding Friday night, triggering a partial shutdown.

"He promised infrastructure, he gave us a train wreck," Pelosi said of Mr. Trump, on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, noting what she saw as broken promises from the commander-in-chief.

Republicans are trying to convince the Democratic counterparts, CBS News' Nancy Cordes reports, to agree to a three-week spending deal, instead of the previous 30-day proposal. Republicans insist on saving immigration, specifically DACA, for once the government is back and running.

"There is a deal out there to be made," House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, told CBSN Saturday afternoon, talking about immigration. "I'm willing to engage. the president is willing to engage. All we need to do is open this government back up and get to a solution in the coming weeks."

But Democrats fear a slightly shorter spending agreement would make no difference. Congress has been divided on spending matters since Mr. Trump in September announced he would be ending DACA.

A deal on spending and immigration seemed possible last week, when Mr. Trump met with both Republicans and Democrats in congressional leadership at the White House. Mr. Trump said he would be open to a clean bill to fix DACA, then seemingly shifted his position shortly after, saying he wants border security funding and funding for the border wall to be a part of any immigration-related bill.

Schumer said he told the president he would even consider border wall funding on the table. A deal, Schumer said, seemed more possible. But then, according to Schumer, the president called him and said he heard Congress had reached a deal to fund the government for three weeks. It had not — the idea was merely that, an idea floated by a handful of Republicans. But then, Mr. Trump began adding more requirements for any such deal, Schumer said, making a spending deal less of a compromise and more of a capitulation to immigration hardliners.

As of Saturday evening, there is no tangible alternative proposal to fund the government.

— CBS News' Kathryn Watson, Alan He and Nancy Cordes contributed to this post

By: CBS News
January 19, 2018

A Senate attempt to move forward with a short-term spending bill vote failed Friday night, sending the government into a shutdown on the one-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration.

Republican senators failed to capture the 60 votes they needed to even vote on the bill that would have funded the government for 30 days. Five Democrats voted with the Republicans to push a spending bill vote, and four Republicans voted with Democrats. The House passed the 30-day spending bill Thursday night.

The White House called a lid shortly before 11 p.m. Friday, meaning the president will not be speaking — unless he tweets. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders blamed Democrats for the shutdown.

On Capitol Hill Friday night, the scene was one of uncertainty and chaos.

Shortly before the 10 p.m. vote, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there was "no deal" reached among Republicans to ensure passage. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, announced he was a "no" on the 30-day deal, making a shutdown even more certain.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said blamed Mr. Trump, at least partially, for the failure to reach a deal. Blumenthal said that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Mr. Trump were close to reaching a comprehensive agreement earlier Friday, but the president walked away after talking to the hard right.

"It's one step forward with the White House, four steps back," said a senior Democratic Senate aide who noted it's unclear who among Republicans is in charge of negotiations. The White House is telling Democrats to negotiate with McConnell, who is still unclear what it exactly is that the president wants.

"It's like negotiating with Jell-O," the aide told CBS News' Nancy Cordes, adding, "the talks won't wrap up unless the president takes the reins."

Mr. Trump tweeted just before 9:30 p.m. Friday that it was "not looking good" and invoked the military and border security. He blamed Democrats, saying they "want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for booming economy."

Senate leadership and the White House were negotiating over two parallel issues — how long a government funding bill should last and what it should include, and what to include in a bill to protect DACA "Dreamers" and improve border security, a source told Cordes. The Senate Democratic Caucus met at 8:30 p.m. meeting to discuss strategy, while House Democrats scheduled a meeting for 10 a.m. on Saturday, suggesting they expected a shutdown.

On Friday night, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said he still thinks it's possible to reach a short-term spending deal Friday night, but that a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlikely in the next 48 hours.

Late Friday afternoon, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney floated the possibility of weekend votes.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump spoke with Ryan by phone, according to a source familiar with the communication.

Before that, Schumer went to the White House after an invitation from President Trump. The president, his chief of staff, John Kelly, and Schumer and his chief of staff met alone in the Oval Office, CBS News' Margaret Brennan reports, according to a White House official. Schumer told reporters afterward that progress had been made, but there was no deal.

Meanwhile, the executive branch Friday was laying out plans for a shutdown.

A senior White House official on a conference call Friday night said the president could still travel to Davos, Switzerland, on Air Force One in the event of the shutdown, because funding for such travel is at his discretion. Mr. Trump had been scheduled to leave Washington for Mar-a-Lago for the weekend on Friday, but the White House canceled his scheduled departure.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it would extend the declaration of a public health emergency for the opioid crisis. The initial declaration was to expire on Wednesday.

Mulvaney sent a memo of frequently asked questions and answers regarding what to do in a shutdown to department and agency heads.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt issued a memo to employees stating the agency has enough funding for now, and directing employees to come into work next week, no matter what happens.

Capitol Lounge, a favorite spot for Capitol Hill staffers, began advertising drink specials starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, including, "To Flake or not to Flake," and "Have you ever met a Haitian?"

Republicans are framing a shutdown as a "Schumer shutdown."

The House passed the bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), in a 230-197 vote Thursday night. Afterward, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said he was urging Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, not to shut down the government.

"The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats," Ryan said Thursday night.

The CR includes a six-year reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and delays on three Obamacare taxes. Shortly before the vote, the House Freedom Caucus said a majority of its members had voted to approve the measure, making passage more certain.

This marks the fourth short-term spending bill Congress has had on its plate since September. Democrats, however, remain largely opposed to the measure because they want it tied to a larger immigration deal over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and border security.

A shutdown would mark the first since 2013.

The government last shut down in October 2013 for 16 days after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, led an unsuccessful effort to defund Obamacare. Republicans went on to retake control of the Senate in the 2014 midterm elections. It's unclear how a government shutdown would affect either party in this year's midterm elections in November.

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