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Shutdown negotiations do not stand in way of football playoffs

Sen. Cotton on state of shutdown talks: “The general sense in the room is excitement that the Patriots won.”

A view through the window into McConnell’s office.
Nash Jenkins/Twitter

Sen. Tom Cotton left a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office about the government shutdown with a smile on his face. It wasn’t a breakthrough on immigration policy, or an agreement with Democrats to open the government making him giddy.

As Congress wraps up a second day with the government shut down, amid a stalemate over the future of nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which the Trump administration is sunsetting by March 5 — Cotton was happy to give a report about football.

“The general sense in the room is excitement that the Patriots won,” Cotton told Vox about his meeting with McConnell.

On Sunday night, lawmakers seem to be as occupied with the NFL playoffs as they were with a looming early-morning vote in the Senate to open the government by Monday’s workday.

Amid tense shutdown negotiations, McConnell, passing a gaggle of male reporters on his way back to his office only said, “What’s the score of the game, boys?”

Republican Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) went on NBC sporting an Eagles hat. Meanwhile, a congressional staffer rolled a large flatscreen TV into McConnell’s office. Through the window, reporters, anxiously awaiting news on a government spending deal, could make out the hazy outlines of a football field on the screen.

Meanwhile, the outcome of tonight’s vote on the government shutdown is far from certain. On the table is a three-week short-term spending bill that would keep the government open until February 8. The bill would fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) also have assurances that the Senate would vote on an immigration bill either on or shortly after that point.

Democrats still are not comfortable with simply a promise from Republicans that an immigration bill will face a vote. But it doesn’t sound like Republicans are ready to change their offer.

Both Cotton and Graham said it was “up to Democrats” to get to a yes on the proposal. The vote is scheduled for noon on Monday.

And as the clock ticks down, lawmakers watch on as the Eagles trounce the Vikings.

The Patriots beat the Jaguars, 24-20.

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