The government headed to a partial shutdown at midnight Saturday after Senate Democrats, demanding a deal on legal status for DACA recipients, blocked passage of a House-passed measure that would have kept agencies funded until Feb. 16.
The Senate's 50-49 vote late Friday on the stopgap funding bill left Republicans 10 votes short of the 60 necessary to move the measure.
Many senators stayed on the floor well after the vote - and beyond midnight, when government funding technically lapsed - and they appeared to be talking about a possible solution.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., later said he would force a new vote on a funding extension to Feb. 8. He said there was support on both sides of the aisle for that, but it was not clear when the vote would take place. The House would have to approve any change in the bill, and the GOP leadership announced that the House would go into session at 9 a.m. Saturday.
A continuing resolution that had been funding the government since December expired at midnight.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a sharply worded statement accusing Democrats of acting like "obstructionist losers."
"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., put the blame on President Trump, saying he had failed to prod congressional Republicans to accept a deal on the immigration issue. "This will be called the Trump shutdown ... He walked away from two bipartisan deals, including one today, when I even put the border wall on the table," Schumer said.
Ahead of the vote, USDA and other departments and agencies announced plans to keep some high-priority services, including meat and import inspections, in operation despite the lapse in appropriations.
“USDA is committed to safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide – and should the government shut down, we will continue to do just that," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would both continue inspection programs during a shutdown, and nutrition assistance programs would also continue to operate, according to USDA. The Agricultural Marketing Service would also continue many of its programs, including commodity procurement and crop grading and inspection.
However, the Farm Service Agency’s county offices would be among the USDA facilities that would close during a shutdown if it lasts into next week.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, meanwhile, notified employees Friday that the agency would stay in operation next week regardless of the outcome in Congress. “At this time EPA has sufficient resources to remain open for a limited amount of time in the event of a government shutdown,” Pruitt said.
The Department of Health and Human Services said the Food and Drug Administration would not keep the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities in operation but would continue to carry out high-risk recalls.
Congressional Republicans gambled that Senate Democrats would vote for the House CR because it included a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, but Democrats instead demanded action on providing legal status to adult children who currently have legal status under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program is set to expire March 5.
Schumer went to the White House Friday to meet with Trump and afterward told reporters that the meeting was "long and detailed" and that they made “some progress” but didn't reach a deal. Later, after the Senate vote, Schumer said he had offered to support funding for a border wall in exchange for Trump's support for legalizing DACA recipients. Trump "seemed to like an outline of a deal in the room" but "he did not press his party to accept it," Schumer said.
Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Schumer proposed passing a short CR until Tuesday.
Republicans have complained that Democratic insistence on settling the DACA issue has held up reaching deals on a number of other issues, including spending levels for the rest of the fiscal year.
“The threat of a shutdown by the Democratic leader and his colleagues ignores the overwhelming majority of the country” who “suddenly are not as important as the few they are focused on, the DACA recipients,” Cornyn said.
McConnell voted against the funding bill even though he supported it, because that allowed him to make a motion to bring it to another vote. Five Democrats voted for the bill, and four Republicans in addition to McConnell voted against it.
The Democrats who supported it: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against the measure.
The House passed the four-week funding bill on Thursday, 230-197. Six Democrats supported the bill, , including the House Agriculture Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Eleven Republicans opposed it.