Trump says Congress is ‘making progress’ on a funding bill, with shutdown deadline hours away

Hours before the midnight shutdown deadline, President Donald Trump said he had an “excellent preliminary meeting” with Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer as Congress scrambled to reach an agreement.







The president’s comment comes after Schumer went to the White House on Friday to discuss a possible deal to avoid a government shutdown. But the Senate minority leader left without an apparent strategy to break an impasse in the chamber.

Only four people were in the meeting: Schumer, Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly and Schumer’s chief of staff, a White House official told CNBC. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did not attend.

Kelly spoke with Ryan and McConnell in separate calls after the meeting, a White House official told NBC News. The chief of staff kept both Republican leaders in the loop, the person said. A Republican aide told CNBC that the president and Ryan spoke later that afternoon.

Walking into the Oval Office on Friday afternoon, Schumer said “I hope” a deal can get reached. Schumer left the White House after 2 p.m. ET following a roughly 90-minute meeting with Trump.

“We had a long and detailed meeting,” he told reporters at the Capitol after the meeting. “We discussed all of the major outstanding issues. We made some progress, but we still have a good number of disagreements. The discussions will continue.”

In an interview with CNN, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he believes a funding deal will be reached within the next 24 hours.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y. walks to his vehicle following his meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y. walks to his vehicle following his meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.

When Schumer returned to the Capitol, he met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Leaving the meeting, Durbin told reporters it was “too early to tell” if Congress could avoid a shutdown.

On Thursday night, the House, with nearly all Republican votes, passed a measure that would fund the government through Feb. 16. It would also reauthorize the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program — an addition meant to get Democrats on board — and delay some Affordable Care Act taxes.

As it stood early Friday afternoon, that bill appeared doomed in the Senate if the chamber took it up later in the day, as expected. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he expects a vote to end debate on the legislation by early evening.

If lawmakers cannot pass a spending plan by the end of Friday, some government agencies will run out of money. Republicans, who hold the White House, House and Senate, have put the burden on Senate Democrats to avert a shutdown.

Some cracks began to show on Friday afternoon. Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both of whom face re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016, said they would vote to keep the government open.

Schumer has pushed for a shorter-term funding extension of only a few days to give lawmakers more time to strike a deal on bipartisan immigration legislation, which Democrats wanted to see passed this week. McConnell shot down the notion of approving funding for that length of time.

“These incredibly short-term extensions would not even give us enough time to actually write the legislation the Democratic leader is demanding,” McConnell said Friday. “One extremely short term CR (continuing resolution) would lead to another and another.”

Cornyn on Friday also called the idea of a dayslong resolution “absurd.”

An earlier White House briefing in which officials put pressure on Senate Democrats to back the House-passed plan was delayed when Trump, Mulvaney and White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short got on the phone with Schumer to continue negotiations, a White House official told CNBC. Trump invited Schumer during that call.

A spending bill would need 60 votes to pass the Senate, which means 10 or more Democrats would have to support it. Since at least three Republicans and many more Democrats announced they would vote against the House-passed plan, its chance of clearing the Senate looked dim entering Friday.


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