The Senate on Friday was scrambling to take up a spending package with billions in funding for a border wall, amid ongoing negotiations to fund the government by midnight and President Trump acknowledged there’s a “good chance” a partial government shutdown will be triggered.
After keeping the vote open for five hours to secure enough support, the Senate finally advanced a House-approved spending bill with $5.7 billion for a border wall, after Vice President Mike Pence went to the Capitol to break a tie. That procedural hurdle paves the way for a final vote in the Senate.
If Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill by midnight, a partial government shutdown will go into effect.
With a 60-vote threshold, however, the House-passed package stands little chance of being endorsed on the Senate side. Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday, “Let’s advance this legislation. Let’s pass it. Let’s finish our work for this year. Let’s secure our country.”
Behind the scenes, negotiations were still ongoing into the the evening, with Pence seen meeting with Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer on Capitol Hill, along with White House aides Mick Mulvaney and Jared Kushner. Sources tell Fox News that negotiations are take place to secure some new money for border security.
“There is a sense of optimism now,” a senior House Republican source said.
The House on Thursday approved $5.7 billion for a border wall as part of a measure to fund the government through early February.
But Democrats say they won’t support a bill with border wall money.
“President Trump: you will not get your wall,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor. “Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting the wall today, next week or on January 3rd, when Democrats take control of the House.”
The president – who says a spending package must include new funding for border security — told reporters Friday he hopes there won’t be a shutdown but he is prepared to ride one out if there is. He also tweeted a photo of a proposed “steel slat barrier” that could be used on the border.
“Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight,” Trump said.
Trump tweeted that he cancelled plans to travel to Florida on Friday while he waits “to see if the Democrats will help us to protect America’s Southern Border!”
Earlier, the president hailed the House vote as a big victory – one that GOP leaders scrambled to achieve when the president abruptly backed off tacit support for an earlier Senate-approved stopgap that did not include the wall money.
Earlier in the day, the president publicly urged McConnell to deploy the so-called “nuclear option” to jam through the spending package, which refers to changing Senate precedent so legislation could be approved with a 51-vote majority, instead of the usual 60. But McConnell’s office made clear the majority leader would not do that, and several Republican senators said they also opposed it.
Trump backed the “nuclear option” after Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and others called for it.
Absent a sudden compromise or an even more unlikely filibuster change, funding for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies could lapse at midnight, resulting in a partial shutdown just as the Christmas break begins.
Both sides were busy assigning blaming Friday morning, in anticipation of that scenario. While Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have already branded this outcome a Trump shutdown, the president tweeted Friday that “it will be a Democrat Shutdown!” if they don’t support the measure before them in the Senate.
“No matter what happens today in the Senate, Republican House Members should be very proud of themselves. They flew back to Washington from all parts of the World in order to vote for Border Security and the Wall. Not one Democrat voted yes, and we won big. I am very proud of you!” he tweeted.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, John Roberts and Judson Berger contributed to this report.
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