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Senators Leave for the Night With No Plan to Actually Avert Shutdown

Will take some bipartisanship to even schedule a vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing Democrats to reverse course on the House’s continuing resolution (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing Democrats to reverse course on the House’s continuing resolution (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It will take unanimous consent of 100 senators to keep the government from at least a brief shutdown.

The Senate adjourned after 10 p.m. Thursday, leaving less than a day in session to try to avert a funding lapse that was appearing inevitable, without votes scheduled on anything resembling a deal that could win bipartisan support.

Emotions were running high in the chamber Thursday, with the tension becoming the most clear after senators had begun to leave for the night.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, temporarily delayed the Senate’s departure by taking the unusual step of publicly objecting to the effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to set the next day’s schedule.

That situation ultimately resolved itself, but there is no vote yet scheduled on the House-passed package that combines a continuing resolution through mid-February with six years of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan reauthorization and extended delays of some of the taxes from the 2010 health care law.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he expects the Senate will vote on
on a debate-limiting motion with time to spare on Friday.

“We’ll have a vote on cloture I presume tomorrow morning sometime.
Late in the morning,” Cornyn said, but the Texas Republican also said there was no plan in place for avoiding a government shutdown if the vote to cut off debate cannot pass.

After the bill arrived from the House, McConnell reiterated that he thinks the debate over the status of undocumented individuals who came to the United States when they were children has no place in a debate over averting a lapse in spending.

“My Democratic colleagues’ demands on illegal immigration, at the behest of their far-left base, have crowded out all other important business. Crowded it all out over the issue of illegal immigration,” McConnell said. “And now they are threatening to crowd out the needs of veterans, military families, opioid treatment centers, and every other American who relies on the federal government. All over illegal immigration.”

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York read from a statement from the Pentagon criticizing the effect of yet another continuing resolution on the defense budget and posture. Schumer said he wanted to have a vote to limit debate on the House measure, which would have come up well short of the 60 votes, to take place Thursday night.

McConnell objected to that, potentially increasing the pressure as the Friday deadline approaches to keep government funding flowing. McConnell had tried to get the measure up for a simple majority vote, but the Democrats wanted no part of that.

The result was senators heading home until late morning on Friday with no parameters for a short-term deal in sight. Under regular order, the vote to limit debate on a House-passed measure would not happen until Saturday.

Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.

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