By Michael Hernandez
Senate moderates scrambled futilely Sunday to finalize a compromise bill that would have ensured hundreds of thousands of federal government workers could go to work Monday – the first day a government shutdown will be fully felt.
The bipartisan group of senators presented Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer with their proposal to pull the U.S. out of its funding deadlock.
The deal would see the government funded until early February in exchange for a promise from McConnell to hold a vote on immigration reform in the coming weeks.
Democrats have rejected any stopgap spending bill that does not including a renewal of protections for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, a group collectively known as “Dreamers”.
The parties wrangled over whether the vote to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program should take place before or after the time frame in which the compromise bill would fund the government.
But McConnell said late Sunday there would not be a vote Sunday, instead adjourning the chamber with a vote expected noon Monday.
The shutdown’s effects have been mostly muted so far due to the fact that it has only been in effect over the weekend when most government workers would be home anyway and agencies would either be closed or working on a limited basis.
Some national parks have been closed, as well as agencies deemed non-essential. But law enforcement and military operations, air traffic control, and border security have continued unabated.
Those are tasks deemed essential, and are unaffected by the shutdown. The employees who carry out their duties, however, have to go without a paycheck until the shutdown ends.
Democratic support for any spending bill is essential with Republicans holding a razor-thin 51-seat majority in the 100-member Senate. Republican leadership would need about a dozen Democrats to ensure the legislation can clear a potential filibuster.
Earlier Sunday, President Donald Trump urged his party to change Senate rules to end the filibuster, a proposal both parties have traditionally shirked away from, and which McConnell rejected.
“Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!” Trump said on Twitter, referring to Continuing Resolutions, or stopgap measures.