As the federal government shutdown enters its third day, the Senate is slated to take the floor at noon on Monday to vote on a spending bill. The government shut down at midnight Friday after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal to fund the government. Democrats are trying to push Republicans and the Trump administration to work with them on a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Democrats and Republicans spent the weekend in a back-and-forth of simultaneous finger-pointing and negotiations (and, on Sunday, some playoff football). Friday’s Senate vote on the spending bill that the House of Representatives passed on Thursday saw not only Democrats but also a handful of Republicans voting against the bill. Monday, the Senate is giving it another go.
What is going to the floor?
The Monday vote is on a three-week spending bill that would expire on February 8, one week before the February 16 deadline of the House-passed bill. The idea behind it is that it will give Republicans and Democrats time to reach an agreement on a path forward for an immigration deal, which would presumably include some sort of fix for DACA.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor outlined the general contours of an agreement, which would include a pledge to open an immigration debate after February 8, the expiration of the Senate’s revised spending bill, if an agreement is not reached before.
How will the vote work?
Getting the spending bill through the Senate requires 60 votes and therefore some Democratic buy-in, because there are only 51 Republicans in the Senate. On Friday, 45 Senate Democrats and five Senate Republicans voted against the bill.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who voted against the short-term funding bill on Friday, are expected to now vote yes. Five Senate Democrats voted for the previous bill, but more Democratic votes will be required if it is to pass the Senate on Monday. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is undergoing cancer treatment, will not vote.
President Donald Trump over the weekend called for the Senate to invoke the “nuclear option,” which would entail McConnell changing Senate rules to pass a spending deal with 51 votes. McConnell has shown no interest in doing so.
Great to see how hard Republicans are fighting for our Military and Safety at the Border. The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2018
What’s the problem?
At the center of the shutdown is a debate over immigration — Vox’s Tara Golshan and Dara Lind have a complete explainer of the contours of the issue.
Essentially, Democrats want a guarantee that Congress will pass a bill to protect DREAMers — undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. They are worried that Republicans will keep kicking the can down the road on DACA, leaving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the balance.
Many Republicans say that they support a DACA fix but don’t think it has anything to do with government funding. Further complicating the matter is President Trump. He says he wants other concessions on immigration — an end to the visa diversity lottery and a crackdown on what he calls “chain migration” — but his exact demands seem to change constantly.
What happens during a shutdown?
The shutdown doesn’t mean all governmental operations cease entirely, just those deemed “nonessential” activities. The mail will keep coming, and Social Security checks will go out. But passport processing applications will come to a halt, and most federal employees will be furloughed.
Federal employees are divided into “essential” and “nonessential” groups. Nonessential personnel receive furloughs, meaning they’re off work until the shutdown is resolved and stop receiving paychecks. Essential workers have to go to work anyway, but they’re not paid for it. Once the shutdown ends, furloughed and non-furloughed workers alike generally are paid retroactively to cover their salaries during a shutdown.
Who shuts down the government?
The Office of Management and Budget is in charge of implementing and running the shutdown. In an interview last week, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney seemed entertained by the prospect. “I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts down the government down is me, which is kind of cool,” he said in a Friday radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity.
Does Congress get paid during the shutdown?
How does the shutdown end?
If the Senate passes a funding bill on Monday, it will return to the House of Representatives for another vote. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in an interview on Fox News Monday that a Senate-passed bill will pass the House.
The passage of a funding bill would reopen the government, and the shutdown process would essentially reverse itself.
How to watch
Time: The Senate vote will be taking a vote at noon EST on Monday, January 22.