Update: Don’t take Brit’s word for it, or ours, for that matter. Take Dianne Feinstein’s word for it — this has been a pointless debacle for Senate Democrats:
Feinstein, who voted no, tells me the shutdown accomplished “not much” and she’s disappointed.
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) January 22, 2018
Update: Brit Hume sums it up well:
I doubted it was possible, but Dems have actually lost a shutdown fight. Schumer has agreed to end the filibuster in exchange for practically nothing. Make no mistake: Schumer & Dems caved. What a political fiasco.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 22, 2018
Update: Schumer’s still talking on the Senate floor, but as The Hill reports, he’s caved:
McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) said that pledge was enough for his caucus to accept a three-week government funding bill, which is now set to pass at noon.
“After several discussions, offers, and counteroffers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement,” Schumer said.
If lawmakers aren’t able to get an immigration bill as part of that larger agreement by Feb. 8, the Senate would then take up a separate bill and “the process will be neutral and fair to all sides,” Schumer added.
Update: Democrats are apparently learning that cheering on obstruction tends to shift them blame onto themselves:
I'm told by plugged-in D source that the CR is "good to go" in the Senate, says the caucus has been acutely aware of the "mixed polling" on who takes the blame.
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) January 22, 2018
Update: Momentum! Two Senate Democrats who had blocked the funding bill now say it will pass:
Sen Nelson of Florida: “you’ll see a resounding yes”
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) January 22, 2018
Coons, who voted against the last effort to keep government open, signals he’s open to latest push after McConnell commitments. Lots of expectation now that this will get 60, reopening govt after positive comments from senators
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 22, 2018
Original post follows …
Can the US Senate come up with a deal to reopen the government for another three weeks? Thousands of federal workers found themselves with extra time this morning after a weekend of haggling in the upper chamber, and they may be able to spend even more time with their families. Majority leader Mitch McConnell has a vote scheduled at noon ET on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through February 8th, adding a personal commitment to schedule a vote for a DACA bill at that time:
But there is optimism that the shutdown, now entering in its third day, could end soon.
The Senate at noon on Monday is set to take a procedural vote on a government funding bill that would last for roughly three weeks, until Feb. 8.
Democrats are mulling whether to support that bill after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered his assurances late Sunday that the chamber would take up immigration legislation, regardless of whether the issue is addressed in a year-long funding package.
“Should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on Feb. 8, 2018, assuming the government remains open, it would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security and related issues,” McConnell said on Sunday night, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
And … that might be enough. As Guy Benson put it on Twitter, “McConnell gave them an off ramp & they’re taking it.” TPM’s Cameron Joseph reported that his source inside the Senate Democrat caucus meeting says they’re about to take the deal:
A Dem familiar with ongoing Senate Dem meeting tells me Dems are going to take the @SenateMajLdr deal and government will reopen today, yes votes will include immigration advocates like @SenatorDurbin.
— Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph) January 22, 2018
We’ll see, but other Republicans were hopeful even before that. John Cornyn thought that would be enough to break the impasse, at least until the next deadline. Others were less sanguine:
But the pledge came with caveats that led senior Democratic aides to question whether it would ultimately be workable. Mindful of the failure of a sweeping immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 but languished in the House, Democrats want stronger assurances that the legislation they are demanding to protect young undocumented immigrants will ultimately become law.
Whether Republicans can find compromise on immigration remained as uncertain as ever Sunday, with no clear backing from House Republican leaders or President Trump, who showed no sign of retreating from his hard line on immigration.
Still, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said he was optimistic the Senate would vote Monday to break the impasse. Schumer, he said, “wants to just give everybody a chance to chew on it and sort of understand it, and so that’s why he didn’t want to have the vote tonight.”
Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer, said the Democrats “made some reasonable offers to Senator McConnell and he hasn’t accepted them yet. The caucus is waiting for him to move some in our direction.”
Supposedly, Schumer offered to approve funding for the border wall, the main demand from the White House. At least that’s what Democrats claim, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy disputes that claim. What Schumer offered, McCarthy told Hugh Hewitt this morning, was an authorization, not an appropriation. It’s an empty gesture, and Republicans have seen it before, as I noted earlier:
Kevin McCarthy, the @GOPLeader, just reminded @hughhewitt that Chuck Schumer's "offer" of wall funding was no such thing. It was offer of authorization, which happened back in '06. The Democrats have made no concessions at all. Audio and transcript soon at https://t.co/EniAXFlCNU
— Duane Patterson (@Radioblogger) January 22, 2018
McCarthy has no formal role in what will take place at noon in the Senate, but the House still has to pass whatever comes out of the upper chamber, unless by some miracle McConnell can gain passage for the bill the House passed on Friday. House conservatives have been rumbling all weekend about concessions on immigration, threatening to block a bill that gives away too much. That appears most precisely aimed at Lindsey Graham’s DACA package, which Graham spent much of the weekend flogging, but which the White House has adamantly rejected.
Nevertheless, a “gang” of 20 Senators met over the weekend to work out some retreat from the shutdown, the New York Times reported this morning. Their plan sounds very similar to McConnell’s, which might hint at success in today’s vote:
The best hope for a breakthrough appeared to reside with the group of about 20 senators from both parties who met throughout the weekend to try to hammer out a compromise to present to Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer.
The group was discussing a plan in which the government would stay open through early February, to be coupled with a promise that the Senate would tackle the issue of immigration in the coming weeks. …
For as long as the government is closed, the White House has said it will not entertain demands on immigration. Senators in the bipartisan group proceeded anyway in discussing a compromise in which there would be some kind of promise that the Senate would address the issue in the coming weeks.
If that’s the terms of the deal, then Democrats will have wasted their time. Republicans were already offering to negotiate on DACA — and had been negotiating it until Democrats decided to shut down the government. The deadline on DACA isn’t until March, and Trump has hinted that he’d extend the deadline if needed as long as good-faith negotiations continued. They will have shut down the government to get basically the same deal they got on Friday, along with a promise to move up the deadline by three weeks. Meh.
Nevertheless, it’s probably the best Democrats and dissident Republicans can do. Jeff Flake told NBC that he and Graham will back McConnell on the shorter CR, which will isolate Schumer a bit further from the five red-state Democrats who have already been voting to reopen the government. Flake declines to assign winners and losers in the shutdown, but if Democrats think they’re winning, they won’t go for this. And again, this is about the best they can do with Mick Mulvaney in charge of the shutdown and its optics.