Another US government shutdown became official at midnight Eastern time, but it might be over by morning. That’s the situation facing legislators, who will reconvene and work through the night in hopes of hammering out a compromise on a funding deal.
As of shortly after midnight ET on Friday morning, the plan was to have the Senate reconvene around 1 AM. If they are successful in hammering out a budget deal, the House will meet after that. If the House manages to find a compromise – no easy task – the government would be funded and reopen before the start of morning business.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to get a muzzle on Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky Thursday night, which postponed any hopes of getting a budget done. Paul took to the Senate floor early Thursday evening and hung on for dear life, thwarting a last-ditch effort to avoid another government shutdown, 17 days after the last one.
People in both chambers prattled on to TV news political pundits about support for the far-reaching budget deal Paul was holding hostage on the Senate floor. Paul, spitting mad at the bill’s big spending increases, delayed the vote for hours with a demand to vote on his amendment that would restore the same budget caps his colleagues want to do away with.
Those colleagues, who have been around this track before, know if they give one senator his amendment, every senator will want his or her own amendment, and the deal will unravel. They agreed to hold the deal as it stands. Then Paul started talking on the floor.
“How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?’” he asked those Republican colleagues.
“I think the country’s worth a debate until 3 in the morning,” he mentioned.
The senate is scheduled to vote at 1 AM ET as of time of writing, after which Paul has the right to chew the fat another hour, before final passage of the bill in the Senate.
The Senate was supposed to be the easy crowd on this bill. News outlets had indicated how this one was going to sail through the Senate earlier Thursday, after which the House would bat it around awhile before taking a vote later in the day. That all changed when Paul grabbed the spotlight and began blasting the more than 600-page deal he bet no one had read, that would raise caps on spending this fiscal year and the next by about $300B.
Then it’s on to the House, where voting is expected to be held some time between 4 AM and 6 AM ET.
House Democrats have not committed to cough up the requisite number of votes and are holding out because the bill does not address protecting DACA recipients. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who staged her own, eight-hour talk-a-thon against the bill on Wednesday to draw attention to the plight of DACA recipients, said she would oppose the deal unless Ryan committed to vote on legislation in the House addressing their plight.
On Thursday, she whispered to her minions not to telegraph where their votes are on this bill, CNN reported. Bernie Sanders promptly went on the air to report he was going to give it a thumbs-down because no DACA.
On Tuesday, Trump embraced a government shutdown if Dems would not cave on tightening immigration laws.
“If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown,” Trump said. “We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.