Republicans failed Friday night to break a Democratic-led filibuster blocking a vote to keep the federal government open.
That means President Donald Trump will face his first partial shutdown. Nonessential government workers will be furloughed, and government offices will close if the shutdown drags into next week.
Appearing on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” just before the failed procedural vote, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) ripped his Democratic colleagues for making new 11th-hour demands. He said Trump and congressional leaders of both parties earlier in the week worked out a process by which they would negotiate a short-term bill.
“And on Thursday they said, ‘We want to go around the process we just agreed to on Tuesday,'” Lankford said. “And so, again, the president was having none of it. He sent them right back to the Hill. This is where it has to be negotiated and has to be actually resolved.”
Lankford was referring to a midday meeting at the White House between the president and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Lankford accused Schumer of acting in bad faith.
“From what we understand from that meeting is Chuck Schumer brought a whole list of demands that he wanted to be able to see be addressed, and the president told him, ‘Hey, this is a legislative branch issue. You go work this out with the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate,'” he said.
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill to extend funding through February 16. But the Senate failed to come close to the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on that legislation. Fifty senators voted "yes" while 48 voted "no." Ailing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was not present and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not vote.
Democrats sense vulnerability among Republicans in forcing a shutdown, hoping it will drive public support for their bid to grant amnesty to young adult illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to America as children. Lankford noted that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects them from deportation and allows them to work in the United States, does not even expire until March.
"We should not have a shutdown over something that has a deadline on an immigration conversation of March the 5th in the middle of January," he said. "That is not even rational to be able to connect the two."
Lankford said Democrats have refused to make significant concessions on a measure that would prevent the next round of illegal immigration.
Trump tweeted a couple of hours before the vote that a deal was unlikely: "Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border ..."
"That's the thing that's missing," he said. "We do not have a DACA problem, we do not have an illegal immigration problem, if we actually have good border security."
Trump tweeted a couple of hours before the vote that a deal was unlikely: "Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. 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."
McConnell had signaled that he planned to keep the Senate in session throughout the weekend if the spending extension did not pass.
It is possible that Democrats and Republicans might reach agreement on a shorter-term funding measure, which would require the House to return to approve that.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C), who is among a small group of Republicans who have joined Democrats in advocating a DACA amnesty, floated the idea of a three-week spending bill.
"After lengthy consultations with senators from both parties, I believe no one wants the government to shut down," he said in a statement. "I also believe that we are inside the 10-yard line on finding solutions on all issues previously described, including immigration."
The politics of a shutdown are uncertain, with risks for both sides. With majorities in the House and the Senate, as well as the presidency, the GOP could look like a party that cannot govern. A Washington Post poll released Friday suggested 48 percent of Americans would blame Republicans for a shutdown, compared with only 28 percent who would fault Democrats.
At the same time, a CNN poll showed that 56 percent think avoiding the shutdown should be the most important priority, while 34 percent believe protecting DACA enrollees was the biggest priority.
Lankford told Ingraham that Republicans have to fight against a consistent media narrative.
"When Republicans were in the minority, they were blamed for the shutdown. When Democrats were in the minority, Republicans are blamed for the shutdown," he said. "So that is just the media pushing out the constant message there's no way Democrats are trying to do this, when it is. It was the same thing during the Reagan administration."
Last Modified: January 20, 2018, 7:20 pm