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The Latest: Partial Gov't Shutdown Likely, WH & Congress Try to Reach a Deal

Should Congress pass the CR with funding for border security & disaster aid?

by Countable | 12.21.18

Congress has until midnight tonight to pass legislation funding roughly one-fourth of the federal government that President Donald Trump is willing to sign, or else the third partial government shutdown of 2018 will occur.

The continuing resolution (CR) to fund that portion of the government through February 8th passed the Senate on Wednesday before it was amended by the House to include $5.7 billion in funding for border security and $7.8 billion in disaster relief and passed along party-lines Thursday night. We'll keep this post updated below as things develop throughout this funding saga.


7:10pm ET - Partial shutdown likely to begin at midnight.

With Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) telling reporters that no more votes are expected tonight, it appears that the third partial government shutdown will begin at midnight. It'd impact workers at agencies covered by the following appropriations bills:

  • Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies;
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;
  • Financial Service and General Government;
  • Homeland Security;
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies;
  • State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and
  • Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

The agencies that will not be impacted by this partial shutdown were funded by one of two "minibus" appropriations bills earlier in the year, including those funded under the following appropriations titles:

  • Defense;
  • Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services;
  • Military Construction & Veterans Affairs;
  • Energy & Water;
  • Legislative Branch.

6:50pm ET - Senate OKs retroactive pay for federal workers whenever the shutdown (if there is one) ends.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) took to the floor to ask the Senate to unanimously pass a bill giving retroactive pay to federal workers furloughed during a lapse in funding. No one objected, so the bill passed.

While furloughed workers have always gotten retroactive pay for the time they were forced to miss during a shutdown, it isn't automatic and Congress has to pass legislation authorizing it.


5:50pm ET - Senate proceeds to House-passed bill, but no deal has been struck.

After five hours and 18 minutes, the longest vote in modern Senate history concluded with the motion to proceed to the House-passed CR being adopted after a 47-47 tie was broken by Vice President Mike Pence voting in favor. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) switched his vote from no to yes, and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) voted in favor.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) then informed members that the next vote would be on a yet-to-be-struck compromise bill negotiated by the White House and bipartisan leaders of both parties, because the House-passed bill lacked the votes needed to advance.


5:30pm ET - And the Senate vote is still open, but there may be a deal?

As the Senate's vote on the House-passed CR that includes funding for border security and disaster aid reaches the five hour mark (it's currently at 44-47), it's still unclear when the Senate will close the vote and what it will do afterwards but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected on the floor soon to offer an update.

One Senate attendance note to pass along: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who suffers from Parkinson's disease, won't be returning to the Capitol today. That could lead to a senator who opposes the bill 'pairing' their vote with that of Sen. Isakson, who would be in favor if he were able to attend, so that the outcome of the vote is the same as it'd be if he were there.

Over on the House side, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has scheduled a Saturday session but is waiting on the Senate to take action before scheduling any votes.


3:15pm ET - Motion to proceed vote still ongoing.

Closing in on the three hour mark of this vote now, and a few more senators have made it to the floor to cast their votes. Now things stand at 44-46, with six Republicans and four Democrats still yet to weigh in.


1:50pm ET - Senate still voting on the motion to proceed.

As we near the hour-and-a-half mark of this vote, the tally currently stands at 43 yeas and 45 nays, as seven Republicans and five Democrats still haven't voted.

So far, all Democrats have opposed the bill while the sole GOP opponent is Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Another outgoing lawmaker, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is waiting to vote until after the GOP luncheon. It'd only take one more GOP defection to keep the Senate from taking up the bill.

The vote will likely be held open a while longer so that absent senators can get to the Capitol and vote. We'll update you whenever it closes.


12:30pm ET - Senate starts voting on the motion to proceed.

The Senate clerk is calling the roll on the motion to proceed to the House-passed CR. Only a simple majority is required.


12:20pm ET - What’s next in the Senate?

At a time to be announced, the Senate will try to take the procedural steps necessary to bring up the CR ― which is where things could hit a snag. Here’s a look at how things would proceed:

  • Motion to Proceed: This is what will officially start debate on the House-passed CR, and only requires a simple majority vote.
  • Unanimous Consent Request: The first potential stumbling block. To file the cloture motion needed to limit debate on the bill and vote on it sooner than the standard “ripening” period of one legislative day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will need to get unanimous consent from all senators to vote on cloture. If UC isn’t granted, the earliest the Senate could vote on cloture would be Sunday.
  • Cloture Motion: This is basically a vote to limit further debate, and because it requires 60 votes it poses another major hurdle to the bill advancing. If the motion passes and cloture is “invoked”, further debate on the bill is limited to 30 hours ― unless an agreement is reached between Republicans and Democrats to not use all of the alloted debate time (which would be likely given that using the 30 hours would result in a shutdown).
  • Passage Vote: After post-cloture debate is exhausted, the Senate would vote on passage of the bill, which only requires a simple majority.

12:00pm ET - All eyes on the Senate as it starts its day.

The upper chamber begins its day with the proverbial ‘avoiding a government shutdown’ ball in its court.

After the Senate on Wednesday night passed a clean continuing resolution (CR) funding those agencies through February 8th unanimously, the House amended the bill to include $5.7 billion in funding for border security and $7.8 billion in disaster relief and passed it along party-lines Thursday night.

If the House’s bill doesn’t clear the Senate, then the two chambers would either need to work out a new compromise, or the House could take up the Senate-passed bill that excluded border security & disaster relief funding which would go to President Trump’s desk if passed.

The bill could become law without Congress having to override President Trump's veto if a version of it were to pass each chamber and sit on the president's desk unsigned (either way) for 10 days while Congress remains in session. (Congress often remains nominally in session despite not doing any actual legislative work by holding pro forma sessions and could do so up until the new Congress is seated.)

If nothing is passed by midnight, then the third partial government shutdown of 2018 will have begun. Read more about what that would look like here, or refresh your memory about the first and second shutdowns.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / pgiam)

Countable

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