Congress searches for deal to end partial government shutdown

Posted at 8:59 AM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 10:59:30-05

Lawmakers are expected to convene Saturday on Capitol Hill, as a plan to fund the government has yet to come to fruition. This comes just a day after members of Congress and President Donald Trump failed to come to an agreement on a deal, resulting in the third government shutdown this year.

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence, budget director Mick Mulvaney and the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, came to Capitol Hill, where they stayed into the evening after both the House and Senate adjourned for the night.

Funding for roughly a quarter of the federal government expired at midnight, including appropriations for the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing and Urban Development and other parts of the government. This is the first time in 40 years that the government will have been closed three times in a year.

The funding legislation that earlier this week seemed certain to pass both chambers was thrown into limbo on Thursday when Trump told House GOP members he would not sign a bill unless it included $5 billion to fund a border wall.

Despite the House of Representatives passing a bill on Thursday, which included this demand, it was clear on Friday that there was not enough support in the Senate for the bill, including the $5 billion for the wall, to clear.

Friday night, a path forward appeared ambiguous, as all sides seemed stagnant in their demands days before the Christmas holiday, when Congress was expected to be out of session.

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who was briefed by Pence, Kushner and Mulvaney on Friday, told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on Saturday morning that the hope is McConnell will have a deal to announce when the Senate reconvenes at noon.

The debate between the White House and Congress focuses not just on how much money to allocate to border security, but also on the language stipulating where and how that money can be spent, he said.

“What is fencing, what is land ports of entry, what’s technology, what’s staffing?” Lankford said. “I think there’s a general agreement … that we need to do border security. Now’s figuring out how much for each amount.”

“Right now we’re trying to finalize all the final text and to be able to make sure everyone’s looked at it, everyone’s agreed, signed off on it. …” he said. “Then we’ll move to a vote 24 hours from there.”

Lankford also said he is “confident” that if Pence says the President is on board with any deal, Trump will keep to his word.

“We’ve agreed in the Senate we’re not bringing anything to the floor until we know all three bodies have agreed to it,” Lankford said. “Then we can expedite it through the process on the floor.”

If there’s no an agreement, Lankford said he believes the American people will be looking at a much longer shutdown.

Trump earlier on Friday predicted a shut down, but placed the blame on Democrats, saying “it’s really the Democrat shutdown, because we’ve done our thing.

“The chances are probably very good” that there is a shutdown,” Trump said Friday afternoon.

He later added: “Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether we have a shutdown tonight. I hope we don’t, but we’re totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”

And in a White House-produced video posted on Twitter two hours before the government was partially closed, Trump said, “We’re going to have a shutdown. There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes.” He added, “The shutdown hopefully will not last long.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer threw the blame back at Trump and Republican lawmakers in a joint statement shortly after midnight, saying if “this Trump shutdown” continued, “the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January.”

When he appeared to be leaving on Friday night, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “constructive talks are underway.”

When he was asked if he would be coming back to participate in the talks, the Kentucky Republican said, “as I’ve said repeatedly, we need Democratic votes and presidential signature.”

A person familiar with Pence, Kushner and Mulvaney’s five-hour trip to the Capitol said they made it clear that the initial request that included just $1.6 billion for the wall wasn’t going to cut it.

“There is no quick end to this,” said one source with direct knowledge of the talks.

If a deal is to be reached, votes could happen as early as Sunday.

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.