Congress misses deadline to prevent shutdown


Congress has missed a midnight deadline to prevent a government shutdown, though efforts to quickly end a shutdown appear to be underway.

The Senate voted Friday night on a procedural motion to advance the House GOP’s month-long stopgap, but it failed to clear the 60 votes needed to advance on a mostly party-line vote.

In a sign of the fluidity and uncertainty of behind-the-scenes talks, the vote remained open nearly two hours after it began. Senators have been clustered in large groups on the floor talking about what is to come.

The previous funding measure ran out at midnight, but lawmakers are believed to be negotiating a days-long extension that could be approved quickly.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule MORE must issue a memorandum instructing agencies to begin a shutdown to trigger a process that would close offices and furlough workers.

But if action is still taken quickly, it’s possible much of that could be avoided.

The closure would mark the first time that the government has been shuttered since 2013, when a shutdown carried on for 16 days as a band of Republicans tried to dismantle ObamaCare.

Republicans are blaming Senate Democrats for the impasse, arguing their refusal to agree to a one-month stopgap passed on a largely party-line vote in the House over immigration caused the shutdown.

Democrats say Republicans are to blame given their control of the White House and Congress and failure to work with Democrats.

Lawmakers and administration officials have largely downplayed the impact of the partial closure, insisting that they would be able to reach a funding deal before the weekend’s end.

If the closure only lasts through the weekend, much of the nation might not notice, as most public-facing government functions are closed for the weekend anyway.

“If there is any good news: it’s a weekend,” House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Hoyer suggests Dems won’t support spending bill without DACA fix MORE (D-Md.) told reporters Friday evening. “And certainly if we act [Saturday] as I think we could, and reach some compromises, then I think we could pass something before the weekend ends and the impact would be minimal.”

The Office of Management and Budget said Friday that the administration has taken steps to minimize the impacts of a shutdown, accusing the Obama administration of weaponizing the 2013 government shutdown.

“We want folks to understand that it will look very different than it did under the Obama administration,” Mulvaney said.

Mulavaney noted that the parks, post offices and the Transportation Security Agency, for example, would all remain open.

But if the shutdown carried into Monday, people are more likely to notice.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees deemed “nonessential” either wouldn’t be allowed to report to work on Monday, or would show up briefly to prepare their offices for the furlough.

Many grants and permits requiring federal action would stall.

Some services like passport processing and certain national park functions could start to wind down, or might be able to stay operational for a few days.

Some agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission, have funding that could keep them open for a few days or through the week. Then they would have to shut down.

Federal courts, for example, only have enough money to remain open through Feb. 9, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

And the Food and Drug Administration would be unable to continue its food safety inspections. The department plan said routine inspections, enforcement and the monitoring of food and drug imports would come to a standstill.

-Timothy Cama and Lydia Wheeler contributed