Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said early Saturday morning that the Senate would soon vote on a bill to keep the government open through Feb. 8, just moments after most Democrats rejected a bill keeping it open through Feb. 16.
That vote prompted a partial government shutdown that took effect at the end of Friday. McConnell announced his plan 38 minutes after that deadline was missed and after more than an hour of bipartisan negotiations on the Senate floor.
At around 1:30 a.m., McConnell announced the Senate was done for the night and would reconvene at noon on Saturday. The majority leader had called for unanimous consent for cloture on a three-week continuing resolution, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., objected.
McConnell did not say specifically when lawmakers would vote on the Feb. 8 measure, but said it would happen “at some point” and said Feb. 8 is “a reasonable period of time” to work out a deal. A vote on the measure could come later in the weekend.
He noted that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and some Democrats seemed to support that date.
It also takes into account the upcoming State of the Union address by President Trump as well as Republican and Democratic retreats scheduled in January and February.
But it's not clear changing the date will lead to its passage. Democrats are mostly hung up on the idea of adding language that protects Dreamers to the spending bill, and it seems unlikely they'll get that.
The White House released a statement saying it would not negotiate with Democrats at all on immigration, as long as the government is shut down.
Still, the Senate was expected to try to pass the new language by unanimous consent early Saturday morning. Assuming that fails, the Senate might try again later on Saturday.
House GOP leaders announced the chamber would convene at 9 a.m., in case it's needed to consider a Senate-passed bill.
McConnell announced his plan after trading barbs on the Senate floor with Schumer.
Schumer claimed that during a private meeting with Trump on Friday, the president essentially agreed to a deal Democrats are seeking on protecting so-called Dreamers. Schumer said Trump then “backed off … under pressure.”
Republicans deny a deal was reached and say Trump told Schumer to return to the Capitol and work out a deal with the GOP.
Schumer claims as part of the deal with Trump he agreed to some level of funding for a southern border wall. “Even that was not enough to entice the president to finish the deal,” Schumer said.
Republicans want immigration and border security reforms, including an end or modification to chain migration and the visa lottery system.