Jan. 19 (UPI) — Senators cast enough votes against a short-term funding bill to prevent it from passing Friday, less than an hour before a deadline to fund the government.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York walked off the Senate floor together for further negotiations with minutes left before a possible government shutdown. The measure would have funded the government through Feb. 16.
The majority of Democrats refused to vote for the bill in an attempt to force Republicans to negotiate with them on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a pathway for young undocumented immigrations brought to the United States by their parents. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Independent Joe Donnelly of Indiana, voted to advance the bill.
But they weren’t the only ones breaking with the majority of their party. Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona voted against the legislation. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., did not vote because he was undergoing treatment for cancer.
Earlier Friday, a group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill to withhold congressional pay should there be a government shutdown Friday hours before a deadline to pass a budget.
If Congress doesn’t pass a budget before midnight, members of both the House and Senate would not receive paychecks under the proposed No Government No Pay Act of 2018.
“If members of Congress can’t figure this out and keep the government open, then none of us should get paid,” said McCaskill, one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
Democratic Sens. Heitkamp, Jon Tester of Montana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Manchin also co-sponsored the bill.
Stabenow, and Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., vowed to give up their salaries should there be a shutdown.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said earlier Friday there are even odds of a government shutdown.
With less than 14 hours until the budgetary issue deadline, Mulvaney said the chances of a shutdown are “50-50.”
“We were operating under sort of a 30 percent shutdown assumption on Thursday,” Mulvaney told reporters. “I think we’re ratcheting it up now.”
According to the budget director, “the Obama administration weaponized the shutdown in 2013” for political purposes — but President Donald Trump‘s administration wouldn’t do the same.
“We’re going to manage the shutdown differently, we’re not going to weaponize it,” Mulvaney said. “We’re not going to try and hurt people, especially people who work for the federal government.”
Mulvaney said that unlike the Obama administration, national parks would be kept open in the event of a government shutdown — noting that military personnel and border security agents would report to work, but wouldn’t be paid.
The director said his office was preparing for the “Schumer Shutdown.
“I guess the bottom line is we’re working to make sure there is no shutdown, but if the Senate or the House can’t get together to finalize a deal, we’ll be ready,” Mulvaney said.
According to legislative director Marc Short, Trump called bipartisan members of Congress on Friday to have conversations about a last-minute spending deal and will continue speaking with senators today.
“There is no way you can lay this at the feet of the president of the United States,” Mulvaney said.