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Welcome to Day 1 of the Shutdown

A cheeseburger lunch wasn't enough to stop it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2018 5:12 AM CST
A Cheeseburger Lunch Couldn't Save Us From the Shutdown
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, right, and Marc Short, left, White House director for legislative affairs, speak to members of the media in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, about a potential government shutdown this weekend.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday. That has halted all but the most essential operations and marred the one-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction. Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown. Congress scheduled an unusual Saturday session to begin considering a three-week version of the short-term spending measure, reports the AP. The AP separately tracks the path to the shutdown:

  • It was shortly after 7:30pm Thursday when the Republican-led House passed a 30-day spending plan. With less than 29 hours until the shutdown deadline, attention quickly shifted to the Senate, where 60 votes were needed.
  • In a sign of the trouble to come, the Senate couldn't even agree on when to adjourn for the night. When lawmakers did return Friday morning, a shutdown suddenly seemed more likely than ever.

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  • The White House announced that Trump would not travel to his lavish Florida resort, where he was slated to attend a glitzy weekend gala to mark the anniversary of his inauguration. The president had voiced frustration about the cancellation, but signed off on the change, according to a person who spoke with the president. If a deal was struck Friday night to keep the government running, he would depart for Mar-a-Lago on Saturday instead.
  • The White House and Republican lawmakers spent the morning blaming Democrats for putting the country on the brink of a shutdown. Meanwhile, Trump privately reached out to Chuck Schumer to discuss the contours of "a big deal," according to a source familiar with the conversation. The two New Yorkers agreed that short-term spending plans were largely a waste of time and agreed to meet in person to discuss a way forward.
  • Trump and Schumer each brought just one aide to Friday's Oval Office lunch. The president was flanked by chief of staff John Kelly, while Schumer brought his own chief of staff. Over cheeseburgers, they discussed a broad deal that would include a large increase in defense and border spending in exchange for protections for the young immigrants. Schumer suggested a two- or three-day resolution would give congressional negotiators time to nail down the details. He left the White House without a deal, but believed he had an understanding they were close.
  • As news of the Schumer meeting spread, the White House sought to reassure Republican leaders that Trump wasn't making any major policy concessions. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters Trump had simply told Schumer to work things out with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • A few hours later, Trump called Schumer—but the conversation had changed. He wanted to talk about an apparent deal for a three-week spending bill he believed had been struck by leaders by both parties. Schumer was confused and said it was the first he had heard of it, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
  • The president encouraged Schumer to work it out with McConnell. McConnell, unsure what Trump might support, encouraged Schumer to work it out with the White House.
  • Trump called Schumer one more time as the evening turned to night, this time with chief of staff Kelly on the phone. He raised new concerns about the deal they had discussed during lunch. In a subsequent phone call with Schumer, Kelly said the deal was too liberal.
  • Trump spent much of the rest of the evening watching cable television coverage of the impending shutdown and talking on the phone with his network of outside advisers. He told one person he was convinced Democrats would take the blame for the shutdown. He also expressed annoyance he was not at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Speaking on the Senate floor after midnight, when the shutdown had formally begun, Schumer expressed disappointment for the deal that almost was. "This is no way to conduct the nation's business."
(Read more government shutdown stories.)

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