Shutdown Begins As Trump, Democrats Wrestle Over Border Wall

The US government has been partially shut down for the third time this year after Congress failed to agree on a comrpomise path forward as lawmakers continued to negotiate over funding for President Trump’s border wall. Senate negotiators from both parties agreed to keep talking in search of a spending deal as the House and Senate adjourned Friday night without an agreement to avoid at least a partial shutdown starting at midnight

Earlier in the day, Trump scuttled an agreement that would have kept the government open until February after coming under heavy criticism from conservative talk show hosts and allies in the House because the measure didn’t include the $5 billion he wanted for the wall.

According to Bloomberg, negotiations between the White House and Democrats went on late into Friday night. Trump’s emissaries were Vice President Mike Pence, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who shuttled between private meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

And while negotiations to resolve the impasse are underway, it was unclear if parts of the government will remain shuttered for days or weeks as many expect a protracted fight with both side having dug in. Ending the shutdown which affects nine of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies, requires Democratic leaders and Trump to reach a compromise, which so far has been elusive as both sides hardened their positions. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene at noon on Saturday, but lawmakers were told they’ll be given 24 hours notice of any planned votes.

The failure of elected officials to keep the government fully operating caps a chaotic week in Washington, during which Trump announced a withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, a draw-down of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Republicans made an offer on a funding measure and were waiting for a response from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “I am hopeful,” he said of the negotiations. “We’ve made some overtures.”

Talks revolved around providing less money for border barriers and more restrictions than Trump initially demanded, however the president was said to balk at anything less than the $5 billion he demanded.

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Update 3: It now appears that a deal won't get done after all because as Bloomberg reports, the House has just left for the night and a GOP aide says that the House won't return before midnight.

  • U.S. SHUTDOWN APPEARS INEVITABLE AS HOUSE LEAVES FOR THE NIGHT
  • HOUSE GOP AIDE SAYS HOUSE WON'T RETURN BEFORE MIDNIGHT DEADLINE

There is still some hope because as Bloomberg adds, negotiations are still ongoing between the White House and congressional leaders on the government funding bill, though the key issue still remains how much funding for border security, and whether it would be allowed to be used to construct President Trump’s border wall.

That said, the floated $1.6BN proposal appears to have been turned down by Mark Meadows:

  • CORNYN SAYS DEAL BEING LOOKED AT WITH $1.6B FOR BORDER SECURITY
  • MEADOWS SAYS HE CAN'T DO $1.6B FOR WALL; `THERE IS NO DEAL'
  • GOP EXPLORING POSSIBILITY OF $1.6B FOR BORDER TO AVERT SHUTDOWN

We'll keep you updated as things change. Meanwhile at the White House:

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Update 2: The Senate has voted to proceed with debate on the House-passed spending bill after Vice President Mike Pence broke a 47-47 tie.

Outgoing Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) - who contributed to the Kavanaugh confirmation spectacle - said  "there is no path forward for the House bill."

Update: The House has voted to meet tomorrow at Noon, 12 hours into the potential government shutdown. 

McConnell, meanwhile, said that the Senate voted to proceed "in order to maintain maximum flexibility" to cut a later funding deal. That said, there is no agreement on funding, which CNN's Manu Raju suggests means there is no chance Trump gets his $5 billion in wall funding. 

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said Friday that Senate leaders have an "agreement" in place for a House-passed stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown which includes funding for President Trump's border wall

Emerging from a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) office, Corker said that Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and McConnell are expected to enter into an agreement on the Senate floor, according to The Hill

"This is will be an agreement between McConnell and Schumer about what next happens on the Senate floor. You’ll see them to enter into a little discussion," said Corker. "It charts the course forward that gives us the best chance of actually coming to a solution."

Corker suggested that a government shutdown may be averted - citing meetings with White House officials. 

"Some of the folks at the White House seem to be optimistic," he said, adding that President Trump "is very aware of what’s happening."

The potential breakthrough comes after Schumer met with Vice President Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House advisor Jared Kushner on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul Ryan’s ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.).

Corker warned that the danger of a partial government shutdown is not completely gone. -The Hill

"It's just how we're going to proceed in a manner that we think is best," said Corker. "The first discussion is not substance, it's process."

Meanwhile, looks like Trump may go medieval on illegal border crossers...

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