Republicans Bet Democrats Won't Block Funding: Shutdown Update

Updated on
GOP Rep. Jordan Says First Priority Is to 'Fund Our Troops'

Temporary government funding runs out Jan. 19 and the House and Senate are heading toward a temporary extension. Democrats are demanding that spending legislation include a provision permanently shielding about 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day (all times local):

Republicans Bet Democrats Won’t Block Funding (4:02 p.m.)

Republicans are betting Democrats won’t risk forcing the government to shutter during an election year to press their demand for a deal on immigration by Friday’s funding deadline.

"I am confident we won’t have a shutdown," said John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican. "I just don’t believe Democrats are going to want to shut down the government over DACA," the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The narrow 51-49 GOP edge in the Senate means Republicans will need Democratic support to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance the spending legislation.

Senator Dick Durbin, the leading Democratic negotiator on immigration, said there’s been “good will, but no progress” in talks to enshrine the Obama-era DACA program into law.

“I happen to believe many of my colleagues, even those from red states, believe it’s finally time for us to take a stand and finally get this DACA issue behind us,” Durbin said.

But he said Democratic leader Chuck Schumer knows each senator has to decide how to vote on stopgap funding measure and how that will be explained to constituents.

“He’s given lots of room to members to make decisions,” Durbin said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly met with top Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday to resume immigration talks after days of sniping over vulgar remarks attributed to the president about African nations and other countries in a Jan. 11 Oval Office meeting. Republicans said there isn’t time to make a deal this week.

Government funding runs out on Friday and Republicans are moving ahead with a measure that would temporarily extend it until Feb. 16. By then, party leaders argue, Congress should come up with a broader budget agreement for the rest of the fiscal year.

Cornyn said the legalization of DACA recipients shouldn’t be driven by that deadline either, a position sure to enrage Democrats.

“I consider March 5 to be the deadline," Cornyn said.

Trump announced last year that he would end the DACA program, which gives deportation protection to about 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, as of March 5.

“So far everything seems to have been held hostage for the DACA issue,” Cornyn said, “and that’s a shame." -- Sahil Kapur, Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan.

Trump Supports House GOP Stopgap Funding Plan (3:00 p.m.)

President Donald Trump will support the House leadership plan for temporary funding, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, giving Speaker Paul Ryan some additional political clout as he tries to bring reluctant conservatives on board.

House Republican leaders are pressing ahead with a plan to avoid a shutdown by temporarily funding the government for four more weeks but shutting out Democrats and their demands for a deal on immigration.

“The president certainly doesn’t want a shutdown,” Sanders told reporters at the White House. Democrats will be to blame if it happens, she added.

Current government funding runs out at the end of the day on Friday.

Republicans are at least nine votes shy of the 60 needed in the Senate to advance a bill. Ryan is gambling that enough Democrats in the Senate are concerned about how a shutdown would look to voters as their campaigns get under way in a few months.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will take up the House plan.

However, some Republicans are raising flags on going forward. Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he is a “no” vote on the temporary funding and said leadership still is short of having the votes to pass it with only Republican support.

“My understanding is they are going to put it on the floor tomorrow and dare the members of their own party to vote against it,” Meadows said. He said he’s seeking assurances on future steps on immigration and spending caps in exchange for his vote.

The White House is making a direct appeal to Freedom Caucus members to vote for the funding measure. -- Erik Wasson, Anna Edgerton and Laura Litvan

Here’s What Happened on Tuesday:

  • House leaders laid out their plan to keep government operations funded until Feb. 16, giving lawmakers more time to work out agreements on raising budget caps, increasing the federal debt ceiling and, potentially, immigration. It would extend the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, and delay unpopular taxes on high-end health insurance and medical devices for two years while putting off a tax on health insurance providers by one year. Leaders may tweak the plan more to win over a handful of conservative holdouts pushing for more military spending by including a pay raise for service members.
  • Senators leading bipartisan talks on an immigration plan will introduce a measure Wednesday that reflects ideas rejected by Trump last Thursday in the Oval Office. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina argue their plan offers the best path that could break the impasse on the issue and help drive a deal for a broader spending deal.

— With assistance by Laurie Asseo, Laura Litvan, Erik Wasson, Anna Edgerton, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Sahil Kapur

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