A government shutdown is entering a third day – into the start of the work week Monday – after a bipartisan group of about 20 senators struggled Sunday to broker a government funding compromise.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged a vote to help end the stalemate.
“Let’s step back from the brink. Let’s stop victimizing the American people and get back to work on their behalf,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Sunday night.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded that lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward.
“I am happy to continue my discussion with the Majority Leader about reopening the government. We’ve had several conversations, talks will continue, but we have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides,” Schumer said after McConnell spoke.
A vote on ending debate and proceeding to the underlying funding bill–originally scheduled for 1 a.m. Monday is now slated to take place at noon.
The House will return at noon on Monday as well as it awaits action in the Senate.
Earlier Sunday, a bipartisan group of Senators presented their ideas to McConnell and Schumer and the two leaders then met behind closed doors to discuss.
One senator in the bipartisan working group, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, had said he was hopeful a solution could be reached Sunday night.
“If it doesn’t happen tonight, it’s going to get a lot harder tomorrow,” Graham told reporters.
Graham said he planned to vote yes on a McConnell proposal to extend funding three weeks until Feb. 8 instead of the four-week funding to Feb. 16 as called for in the stopgap funding bill passed by the House.
Later, on the Senate floor, McConnell proposed that if no immigration agreement is reached by Feb. 8 it would be his “intention” to take up “legislation that would address DACA” – referring to a legislative fix for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.
That promise apparently was not good enough for Democrats who want protection for some 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
After McConnell also pledged to not “prejudice one bill over another,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he would vote for the government funding bill he opposed on Friday night.
Graham said he, too, would vote yes if McConnell promised to bring up a bill Democrats want to protect the so-called Dreamers.
Asked about the criticism from Schumer and other Democrats that they can’t trust the president to make a deal, Graham said, “Well, he’s still the president, and a lot of people on our side don’t trust Chuck. I’m not asking people to trust anybody, I’m asking people to grow up and realize we are in charge of the House and Senate and that we have a