A last-ditch battle to avert a looming US government shutdown moved to the Senate on Friday, where Democrats angered by the collapse of immigration talks have vowed to block a stop-gap funding bill.
A government shutdown still looms even as the House passed a four-week stopgap funding bill Thursday evening, sending the measure to the Senate, where prospects for its passage remain grim.
House Republicans put up the needed votes to pass the continuing resolution before a handful of Democrats added their “yes” votes, for a final tally of 230-197.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat, said that if agreement is not reached by Friday night, there should be an even shorter-term funding measure of a few days that would “give the president a few days to come to the table.”
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Majority Leader, said the House bill provides for four weeks of funding, enough to allow talks to continue “without throwing the government into disarray for no reason.”
A senior Senate Democratic aide said the House support for the CR does not change the caucus’s position to vote against it in the Senate.
However, up until around 6 p.m. Thursday the House also did not have the votes needed to pass the CR. Reluctant Republicans got on board after House GOP leaders negotiated a deal with Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan. President Donald Trump was also involved in the dealmaking, Meadows said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called on Schumer to avoid a government shutdown, saying: “It is risky. It is reckless. And it is wrong.”
Arriving at the Pentagon for a visit, Trump told reporters the government “could very well” shut down Friday.
In the event the funding dries up, federal employees for agencies considered non-essential are ordered to stay home until a budget deal is struck, at which point they are paid retroactively.
Key government bodies such as the White House, Congress, State Department and Pentagon would remain operational, but would likely furlough some staff.
The military would still report for duty, but troops — including those in combat — would potentially not be paid.
As the CR heads to the other side of the Capitol, GOP leaders are taking aim at Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open is Senate Democrats,” Ryan said. “They fully intend to shut down the government unless they get their way.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy added, “Either we stay open or we have a Schumer shutdown.”
Watch: Pelosi and Ryan Discuss Shutdown Possibility
Democrats argue that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, so a shutdown would be on them. While that is factually correct, Senate Democrats have more power and responsibility than they claim.
Republicans only control the Senate by a slim 51-49 margin. However, Senate rules require 60 votes for cloture and many other votes. Even if Republican support is unanimous, without some Democrat votes the shutdown will happen.
As of the posting of this article, experts estimate 47 Republican votes in the Senate for the CR. If Senate leadership can bring GOP holdouts on board, they still need Democrat votes. As it stands right now, 13 Democrat votes will be needed to avoid shutdown.
The most recent shutdowns — in 1995, 1996 and 2013 — saw about 800,000 workers furloughed per day.