Senate adjourns until next week without reaching shutdown deal


The partial shutdown will drag into next week after the Senate adjourned on Saturday without taking action to end the funding lapse and reopen the federal government.

The chamber will next meet for a pro forma session on Monday morning, then will reconvene after Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced.

The pro forma is constitutionally mandated and the Senate does not generally conduct legislative business during the sessions, which last a few seconds. That will put the focus on getting a deal before lawmakers return on Thursday.

“As I said earlier, I am glad that productive discussions are continuing. When those negotiations produce a solution that is acceptable to all parties—which means 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and a presidential signature—at that point, we will take it up here on the Senate floor," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

“Senators will be notified when a vote is scheduled. In the meantime, negotiations will continue," he added.

McConnell's comments came as President Trump and Democrats on Saturday appeared to dig in on their positions over funding for the president's proposed border wall while negotiators tried to find a potential solution.

Lawmakers had gathered at the Capitol around noon on Saturday with modest hope of finding a way forward to end the shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and is affecting about 25 percent of the federal government.

But both sides quickly began blaming the other for the shutdown — the third in the past year — raising questions about how quickly lawmakers could reach a deal to end the funding lapse.

The White House and lawmakers acknowledged on Saturday afternoon that prospects for a deal had not increased, even after Senate leaders made a last-ditch pledge to negotiate hours before the deadline on Friday night.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said that a deal on Saturday was "probably not probable."

Meanwhile, a senior administration official told reporters during a call that they hoped the partial government closure would last only a "few days," acknowledging it would carry into next week.

"Merry Christmas all of you," Shelby told reporters when asked what the break means about the state of negotiations. "There's no deal, there's no deal. ... 27th will be here, what? Thursday?"

Shelby added that Republicans and Democrats weren't "far apart," but "we're not together."

An estimated 380,000 federal employees are being furloughed during the shutdown, while an estimated 420,000 employees will be required to work without pay, such as Transportation Security Administration officials managing busy holiday travel.

The shutdown affects the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury, among others.

The senior Trump administration official on Saturday doubled down on Trump's request for $5 billion in funding for "physical barriers" along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump also held a lunch at the White House with a number of Republicans who have encouraged him to dig in on his demand.

"We're not going to negotiate over the phone as to what he would accept. That continues to be what this president is pushing for,” the official added when asked if the president would accept $1.6 billion instead.

Three members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, including Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and founding member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), were among those dining with Trump in the White House residence.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Freedom Caucus ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) were also in attendance.

Democrats, meanwhile, repeatedly blasted Trump on Saturday and told him to back down from the wall fight.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have repeatedly said they will not accept funding for a concrete wall, but fencing.

Schumer slammed Trump during his floor speech Saturday afternoon, criticizing his "destructive two-week temper tantrum demanding the American taxpayer pony up for an expensive and ineffective border wall."

He added that McConnell and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) "cannot duck responsibility" and "are essential to this process." Schumer said that, after Trump reversed course this week on supporting the Senate's initial seven-week bill, Trump has to publicly endorse a final deal before it gets a vote in the Senate.

"We don't want to go through what we went through a few days ago. Both Leader McConnell and I have agreed that qualification for a specific reason. Repeatedly the president has privately agreed to a deal with congressional leaders only to reverse himself when criticized by the far-right," Schumer added.

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