GOP Conservatives Win Concessions to Back Bill: Shutdown Update

Updated on
Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli reports on efforts by Congress to pass a stopgap bill to keep the government funded.

Temporary government funding runs out at midnight Friday and the House and Senate must pass a temporary extension to avoid a partial shutdown, but those efforts are increasingly in doubt. Democrats are demanding to 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:

Freedom Caucus to Vote for Bill After Concessions (7:04 p.m.)

A group of conservative House Republicans said they won concessions from party leaders and will provide their votes for a stopgap funding bill, clearing the way for passage in the chamber. But the measure still is likely to be blocked in the Senate, putting the U.S. at the brink of a partial government shutdown after midnight Friday.

Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said the group won a commitment for a vote on a conservative immigration bill as well as on a bill that increases defense spending without raising non-defense spending.

As a result, a “majority of our caucus will be voting for” the stopgap, he said.

Mark Meadows

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Freedom Caucus Seeks Last-Minute Bill Changes (5:30 p.m.)

House conservatives are trying to force last-minute changes in a short-term government spending measure backed by GOP leaders and President Donald Trump, who lobbied Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows by telephone from Air Force One during the group’s private meeting Thursday afternoon.

The president “does not want a shutdown,” Meadows said on CNN after the meeting.

The North Carolina Republican said that he continues to oppose the bill, which Trump has endorsed, and as of now enough conservatives are withholding support that House Speaker Paul Ryan won’t be able to get it passed with GOP votes only.

“But discussions are ongoing with the leadership," he added. He and other Freedom Caucus members are pushing for full-year funding for military pay raises and maintenance.

Meadows said his talk with Trump wasn’t contentious. “The president wants to make sure that Congress does its job," he said, but adding, “I would prefer to not have to negotiate with the president of the United States.”

Some Freedom Caucus members were heading to a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan. "He has an idea that might break this logjam," Meadows said.

Part of Meadows’s complaint is that this would be the fourth short-term spending bill of the fiscal year. The White House also is growing frustrated with the continuing use of temporary measures to fund the government.

Asked whether the administration would back a shorter one- or two-week extension if the measure couldn’t pass, White House legislative director Marc Short said tolerance for such stopgap funding “is running down.”

Short put the chances of passing legislation to avert a shutdown at 50-50.

-- Anna Edgerton, Laura Litvan.

Democrats Claim to Have Votes to Block GOP Bill (3:40 p.m.)

Senate Democrats claimed to have the votes to block a temporary funding bill to force progress in negotiations with congressional Republicans and the Trump administration on immigration. Conservatives in the House, meanwhile, said the measure was in trouble in that chamber.

At least nine of the 18 Democrats who voted for a temporary funding measure in December have publicly announced their opposition, and a Democratic aide said there won’t be enough party members who support the bill that is under consideration in the House.

Republicans would need at least a dozen Democratic votes to get the bill through the Senate after at least three of the 51 Republicans in the chamber have said they would vote against it.

Paul Ryan

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan was still facing dissent from a group of conservative Republicans, even as lawmakers there took a procedural step to clear the way for a vote on the stopgap funding bill Thursday night.

“I promise you he doesn’t have the votes,” Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said.

-- Laura Litvan and Erik Wasson

Senators Talking About Even Shorter Stopgap (1:10 p.m.)

Facing a tough vote count that’s currently well short, several Senate Republicans said a stopgap bill to fund the government for just a few days is now under discussion. That would extend talks on a variety of contentious issues from budget levels to immigration into next week without partially shuttering federal operations

While far from a done deal -- and one top Republican said flatly it won’t happen -- the discussion is real and growing.

Jeff Flake

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said some lawmakers have been discussing a five-day bill that would extend govt. funding through Jan. 23. It’s an idea being floated by Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, and others as a way of keeping pressure on negotiators while avoiding a partial shutdown starting after Friday. Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia also endorsed going a few extra days.

The math is simple in the Senate, and it isn’t good for Republicans right now. They need Democrats to help advance the measure, so at some point need to be able to count to 60. There are 51 Republicans in the Senate and, of those, at least three have said they won’t back the bill. That means at least 12 Democrats would need to back it, and currently only one -- Joe Manchin -- has said he would.

Senator John Cornyn, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, told reporters at the Capitol that lawmakers won’t do a stopgap lasting a few days or a week. "We’re not going to do that," he said, adding if a stopgap fails it’ll be the Democrats’ fault.

John Cornyn

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Still, discussions on short-term CR "may be serious" because "I don’t think there votes for a month" extension of government spending authority, Senator Bob Corker told reporters.

But That would require the House to go along, and Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the vice chairman of the Republican Conference, dismissed the possibility. The House is scheduled to be out of session next week.

"The Senate can do what they want,” Collins said. “I’ve heard of nothing at this point indicating a change in our plans.”

-- James Rowley, Billy House, Anna Edgerton, Derek Wallbank, Laura Litvan and Erik Wasson

White House Backtracks as Senate Vote in Doubt (12:28 p.m.)

The White House backtracked after President Donald Trump threw a wrench into negotiations over a shutdown-avoiding spending bill by saying he didn’t want a provision funding children’s health insurance in the short-term measure.

“The president supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House," White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement hours after the president tweeted that the Children’s Health Insurance Program “should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”

The tweet in the middle of an already tenuous path for a stopgap funding bill to keep the government operating midnight Friday caused confusion among lawmakers. The House is pressing ahead with a vote Thursday evening on the measure, which gives the House and Senate until Feb. 16 to work out a broad deal on funding for military and domestic spending, an agreement on immigration legislation and a host of other issues.

“It’s not causing us problems at all,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said when asked about the president’s tweet Thursday morning.

But the spending plan is hitting obstacles in the Senate. Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia on Thursday announced their opposition to a four-week stopgap government funding bill, dealing a blow to prospects of it passing in the chamber.

They instead urged adoption of temporary funding for only a few days while other issues are hammered out. Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas made the same point, telling reporters that he wants a shorter duration to “keep the pressure on” to make a deal with Democrats.

Republicans need at least a dozen Democrats to go along with the temporary funding plan after at least two Republicans said they would vote against it. At least seven of the 18 Senate Democrats who voted in favor of a temporary funding extension in December have said they would oppose this version.

-- Jennifer Jacobs, Erik Wasson and Laura Litvan

Senate Vote in Doubt, Trump Blames Democrats (11:35 a.m.)

With a Senate vote on a short-term spending bill in doubt, President Donald Trump said Thursday that a shutdown "could happen, we’ll see what happens. It’s up to the Democrats."

The House is scheduled to vote on a temporary spending plan Thursday night, but there were new signs of trouble emerging in the Senate, raising the risk that the government will partially shutdown at the end of the day Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky doesn’t have all of his 51-member Republican majority lined up to vote for the House version of the stopgap funding. He’d have to relying on more than a dozen Democrats supporting the measure to get it through.

Mitch McConnell

Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota have said they will vote no. Senator Mike Lee hasn’t announced a position but his office noted that the Utah Republican has never voted for a temporary spending bill. In addition, Senator John McCain is home in Arizona fighting brain cancer.

Among the 18 Democrats who voted for the last stopgap funding bill, several have announced they won’t vote for this one.

The president’s remarks Thursday at the Pentagon came as lawmakers were still trying to make sense of Trump tweet earlier in the day that said the Children’s Health Insurance Program “should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”

"He needs to wake up," House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas said in an interview. The legislation would reauthorize CHIP for six years.

GOP Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is working with the White House to get clarification, Hatch spokeswoman Katie Niederee said in an email.

There were no signs that House Republicans were reworking the bill to alter the CHIP provision.

-- Laura Litvan, Shannon Pettypiece, Erik Wasson, Billy House, Sahil Kapur.

Here’s What Happened Wednesday:

  • 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. Durbin, the leading Democratic negotiator on immigration, said there had been “good will, but no progress” in talks to enshrine the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, into law.
  • Trump will support the House leadership plan for temporary funding, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, giving Ryan some additional political clout as he tries to bring reluctant conservatives on board. “The president certainly doesn’t want a shutdown,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he won’t schedule a vote on any compromise legislation extending protections for the immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children until he has a clear indication that Trump would support it. “What I want to see is an outcome, and an outcome is the signature of the president of the United States,” he said.

— With assistance by Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan, John Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer Jacobs

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