I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, January 20, 2018. Day 1 of the government shutdown. 291 days until Election Day 2018. 1,019 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell your friends to sign up to receive the newsletter in their inbox at wakeuptopolitics.com/subscribe!
A quick Saturday morning update on where we are and how we got here...
Shutdown: Day One.
Much of the U.S. federal government ceased operations at 12:01am Eastern Time this morning, after the Senate failed to advance a House-passed continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for four weeks, forcing the first government shutdown since 2013. Negotiations will continue today, even as both parties focus on blaming the other for the current situation.
The continuing resolution failed in a 50-49 vote, nearly along party lines. 60 votes were required for the measure to advance. Most Senate Democrats were united in opposition to the measure, demanding that the CR be accompanied by a legislative version of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protections to nearly 800,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors. They were joined by four Republican senators in voting down the stopgap spending bill: Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Mike Lee (UT), and Rand Paul (KY). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also voted "nay" on the continuing resolution, a procedural tool which allows him to bring the measure up for another vote.
Five Democrats broke with their party in voting for the continuing resolution: Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV), and Claire McCaskill (MO). All five except for Jones face re-election this November in states won by President Donald Trump by double digits.
The stopgap measure, which passed the House on Thursday night, would have kept the government running at the current funding levels through February 16, while also reauthorizing the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years and delaying a trio of controversial Obamacare taxes. Funding for CHIP, which offers health insurance to 9 million children of low-income families, also expired at midnight.
After the vote, both Senate leaders took to the floor to offer dueling slogans for the government closures. Republicans said that the shutdown was caused by Democrats, who united to filibuster the CR, while Democrats placed the blame on the shoulders of the Republican majorites. This is the first time the government has shut down with one party in control of the White House and both houses of Congress.
“What we’ve just witnessed on the floor was a cynical decision by Senate Democrats to shove aside millions of Americans for the sake of irresponsible political games,” McConnell said. The top Republican also read a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said: "Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown," seeking to blame Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). "This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators," Sanders said, making clear that the Trump Administration would not participate in immigration negotiations until the shutdown ends. She said: "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands...When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform."
Schumer, meanwhile, said the shutdown was the fault of President Trump. "This will be called the Trump Shutdown because there is no one, no one, who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in than President Trump," he said. Schumer spoke about a meeting he held with Trump on Friday afternoon, revealing that he put the President's proposed border wall "on the table" in exchange for DACA protections. Still, he said, Trump refused to make a deal.
According to the New York Times, Trump and Schumer agreed to "an outline" of a deal over a meal of cheeseburgers: Schumer would accept "higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding the president's wall on the southern border," while Trump "agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children." However, White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly called Schumer later to tell him that the deal was off.
Both chambers of Congress convene for rare Saturday sessions today as lawmakers scramble to strike an agreement. The Senate meets at 12pm, and the House at 9am. The House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican Conference will meet separately at 10am to strategize on their next steps. Leaders in both chambers sent advisories that votes are expected today, even though none are scheduled.
McConnell has announced that he will propose an amendment changing the CR's expiration date to February 8, which the Senate will vote on soon. Flake told reporters that McConnell has promised him that if a three-week CR is passed, a DACA bill would be voted on before the funding extension expires. Democrats seemed unlikely to accept that proposal, insisting on the need to attach DACA and spending. Senators huddled on the floor early into Saturday morning as Flake and Graham attempted to convince their Democratic and Republican colleagues to agree to the short-term deal.
Meanwhile, President Trump remains in Washington, D.C., despite a scheduled trip to Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. On Twitter, Trump noted that the shutdown comes exactly one year after he was sworn in. "This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present," he tweeted, adding a "DemocratShutdown" hashtag.
According to the Washington Post, the White House is determined "to keep the government as functional as possible" despite conflicting signals with the federal bureaucracy. "Parks will be open...Fannie and Freddie will be open. The Post Office will be open. The TSA will be open," White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a Friday press briefing. However, some operations at these agencies will be temporarily halted, as employees will not be compensated for their work. While "essential" programs, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' hospitals, will continue, agencies with larger numbers of employees deemed "non-essential" will see the effects of the shutdown more closely, as hundreds of thousands of government workers are furloughed.