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- The government will enter a partial shutdown at midnight unless Congress passes a funding bill.
- President Donald Trump invited Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to the White House on Friday afternoon in hopes of reaching a deal to keep the government open.
- Schumer and Democrats are insisting that the funding bill include a codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program.
With hours to go before a government shutdown deadline, President Donald Trump and congressional leaders scrambled to work out a compromise to keep the government open.
A key vote on whether to proceed with a short-term funding package passed by the House is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET, just two hours before the shutdown deadline. It’s unclear if Republicans have the needed 60 votes to get over the procedural hurdle and ensure passage of the bill.
With a few hours left before the midnight deadline, a flurry of activity in the Capitol broke out as both parties attempted to reach an agreement.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who announced he would go against his party and vote for the House-passed funding bill, said that there were active discussions about a number of ways to keep the government open.
“I think they’re working on some things,” Manchin told Business Insider. “There’s a group – a contingency group going to speak to both leaders and we’ll see what happens.”
The House-passed bill would push the deadline for the shutdown back to February 16, but Manchin said that other deadlines prior to that date were being discussed. According to the West Virginia Democrat, the alternate deadline would be before the State of the Union on January 30.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the GOP leadership previously rejected the idea, but some Republican senators were on board.
“We could easily pass a continuing resolution – which lasts days (certainly more than the four proposed by the Senate minority leader) and less than the 30 days passed by the House of Representatives – to close the deal on outstanding issues which remain,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of three Republicans who rejected the House bill, said in a statement.
Graham later suggested that the two sides could agree on a deal to fund the government through February 8.
Sen. Lamar Alexander concurred with Graham that a short-term bill may be ideal.
“Grown-ups ought to be able to sit down and say we can begin 2018 with solutions on these major areas affecting the American people would be a great way to start the year,” Alexander told Business Insider. “I think we could do it in a short period of time. Probably be longer than four days and not as long as 30 days.”
Trump cast doubt on the possibility of a deal with a tweet late Friday, just 20 minutes before the planned vote.
“Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border,” the president said. “Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy.”
The work in Congress came a few hours after Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House to try to hash out a deal.
Democrats are insisting that any funding bill include a codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program. The DACA program shields from deportation nearly 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who entered the US as minors.
Following the meeting, Schumer told reporters that the time with the president was productive but there is no deal yet.
“We had a long and detailed meeting,” Schumer said. “We discussed all of the major outstanding issues, we made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”
A few hours later, Trump took to Twitter to extol the progress made with Schumer and Republican leaders.
“Excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with @SenSchumer – working on solutions for Security and our great Military together with @SenateMajLdr McConnell and @SpeakerRyan. Making progress – four week extension would be best!” the president said.
Trump originally kicked off the fight over DACA by ending the program in September. The president built in a six-month delay for the program’s end to give Congress time to pass a bill to protect the more than 700,000 DACA recipients.
With the program set to expire at the beginning of March, Schumer and the Democrats are attempting use the shutdown as leverage to codify it in legislation.
Some members of the Democratic conference broke ranks during the run-up to the deadline, with Sens. Joe Donnelly, Doug Jones, and Heidi Heitkamp joining Manchin in saying they will vote for the GOP-led CR. Three of the senators are up for re-election in 2018 and are running in states Trump carried in the 2016 election, with Jones facing a tough Alabama race in 2020.