WASHINGTON – A partial federal government shutdown is almost certain to begin at midnight now that the House had adjourned for the evening amid a flurry of last-minute negotiations aimed at ending a budget standoff.
The Senate remained in session late Friday as congressional Democrats and the White House worked behind the scenes to strike a budget deal.
But with House lawmakers adjourning and no more votes expected before Saturday, a partial government shutdown is virtually assured, beginning at midnight Friday.
With the clock ticking, President Donald Trump said earlier Friday he was “totally prepared for a very long shutdown.” The chances of a shutdown are “probably very good,” he said, as he blamed the Democrats.
“It’s totally up to the Democrats” whether or not a shutdown happens, he said.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor that it was clear that there were not enough votes to pass a spending measure that includes border wall funding.
But Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Democrats had agreed to continue the discussions with the White House.
“I hope Senate Democrats will work with the White House on an agreement that can pass both houses of Congress and receive the president’s signature,” McConnell said.
Trump had planned to leave Friday afternoon for an end-of-the-year vacation in southern Florida, but said he would push back that trip if a new budget agreement is not reached and a shutdown occurs.
Amid a series of shutdown-related tweets Friday, Trump blasted Democrats ahead of any Senate action and was already blaming them for any future government shutdown, which he warned could “last a very long time.”
“The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED,” he wrote via Twitter. “If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!”
Trump also tweeted a photo of what he said was a design for the wall, calling it “totally effective while at the same time beautiful.”
Lawmakers have until midnight Friday to pass a spending bill or funding will expire for a quarter of the federal government, triggering a shutdown heading into the holidays and forcing some 800,000 federal employees to go on furlough or work without pay.
A Senate proposal, approved Wednesday night, would have funded the government through Feb. 8 but would have delayed any decision on border wall funding until next year.
But after Trump informed House GOP leaders during an emergency Oval Office meeting on Thursday that he would not sign the Senate bill, the House responded by introducing its own spending package.
The House bill would fund the government through Feb. 8 but also includes $5.7 billion for a border wall and nearly $8 billion in disaster relief to compensate communities hit hard by this year’s hurricanes and wildfires. The House approved that bill Thursday night.
Congress is scrambling to pass a short-term spending bill because lawmakers still haven’t passed seven of the 12 appropriations bills that are needed to fund the government for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
The seven remaining bills would fund nine departments – Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development – as well as several smaller agencies. Those are the departments and agencies that would be impacted by a government shutdown.
President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had a heated exchange in front of reporters at the White House.
With more eyes watching the border, migrants are forced to walk for days in their attempt to cross from Mexico into the United States. Some make it. Some die. A USA TODAY NETWORK video production.
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