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On day 34 of shutdown, signs of progress toward resolution

Two bills to end the government shutdown failed in the Senate Thursday, as expected. But there are a few signs of progress, with support building for a proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers will miss another paycheck this Friday. Judy Woodruff is joined by Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor for the latest.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    They have been voting in the U.S. Senate today on ending the partial government shutdown, but to no avail.

    Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers are about to miss another paycheck.

    Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins has our report.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    No deal on day 34 of the government shutdown. There were fiery speeches, though, in the Senate from Democrats blaming Republicans.

  • Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.:

    How ludicrous it is that the government is shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn't keep!

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And Republicans pointing at Democrats.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:

    They want to win a political victory against the president. Their objective here is to have the president back down and have not a single mile of border wall built.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The real action was inaction on two measures to end the shutdown. Both needed 60 votes to move ahead. First, just 50 senators voted to back President Trump's offer of temporary status for DACA recipients in exchange the wall money he wants. Just one Democrat voted yes.

    Next, 52 senators voted for what Democrats want, a bill to fund agencies until February 8. Six Republicans joined Democrats on that one. But both failed, and that was the point, to show that neither side has the 60 votes needed right now.

    Afterward, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met to try to find a way forward. And this time, the president offered his encouragement from the White House.

  • Donald Trump:

    If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it, yes.

  • Question:

    Even if there's no wall money? Or does it have to have wall money?

  • Donald Trump:

    I only — look, look, I have other alternatives if I have to, and I will use those alternatives if I have to. We want to go through the system. We have to have a wall in this country.

    But as leaders struggled to negotiate, federal workers' struggles are growing. Tomorrow, some 800,000 federal employees miss a second paycheck. But bills are approaching, including in two weeks, those workers' premiums for dental and vision coverage.

    The government is paying for medical coverage right now, but not vision and dental. And lines at food banks for federal workers and contractors are getting longer.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked about reports of people going to homeless shelters and food banks. He seemed confused.

  • Wilbur Ross:

    And I don't really quite understand why, because, as I mentioned before, the obligations that they would undertake, say, of borrowing from a bank or a credit union, are, in effect, federally guaranteed.

    So, the 30 days of pay that some people will be out is no real reason why they shouldn't be able to get a loan.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    While some federal workers can get short-term loans, that is not true for many, possibly millions of contractors, who will not receive back pay and have lost a month's worth of salary.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Ross' suggestion shows the White House is out of touch:

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    Is this the let-them-eat-cake kind of attitude, or call your father for money, or this is character-building for you, it's all going to end up very well, as long as you don't get your paychecks?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This a day after Pelosi won a kind of proxy fight with the president. After a battle over whether his State of the Union address would happen next week, as he wanted, President Trump tweeted last night that he would delay it, as Speaker Pelosi requested.

  • He wrote:

    "I will do the address when the shutdown is over, and I look forward to giving a great State of the Union address in the near future."

    The House speaker directed her thoughts about the change to the president himself.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    Thank you for recognizing that it's inappropriate to have a State of the Union address where people are working hard, very hard to protect all of us in that room, and not getting paid for it.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Pelosi and Democrats are expected to present a new border security proposal tomorrow, with no wall funding.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa and our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, are joining me now with the latest.

    So, Lisa, we know there was a meeting going on between the Senate majority leader and the minority leader. What do we know has come of that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Judy, all of a sudden, this day has become very important. This is an important moment.

    It seems to be — we don't have details of that meeting. I'm going to come back to that. But they did meet. That's important. It seems to me the path that people are talking about most is something offered by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

    He's speaking to the president and to the Democrats. And he's suggesting something that would go like this, permanent status for TPS and DACA recipients. That's different than the president's offer, but also some wall money.

    Now, the president's spokesperson said that the president want a down payment on his wall money. I just came from walking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She said she wasn't sure what that meant. And she's not sure if that is a reasonable agreement, as the president said he could support.

    She's obviously analyzing this. Judy, I think what we have here is some good cop/bad cop on both sides, Nancy Pelosi and President Trump sort of being the bad cops here, keeping their sides, while Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer are trying to actually negotiate.

    The biggest significance of this hour right now, Judy, is there is radio silence from the offices that are engaged. And, in history and in my experience in dealing with these tough kind of fiscal crises, that's a sign that there are actual talks happening. How far they go, I can't say yet.

    And what this down payment means, who knows? But it does seem like there are real attempts, the first in weeks, at progress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, to you now, Yamiche, we did hear the president say whatever comes out of this, there has to be money in it for a wall.

    But what else is he saying about the possibility of some kind of an agreement between McConnell, Schumer, other senators?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the bottom line is, the president says whatever deal those lawmakers strike, it has to include border funding. And it has to include a prorated down payment for the wall.

    That means that the president wants to see some sort of money, even if it's a little bit of money, but as a good-faith gesture to show, I'm going to get some money at some point for this wall.

    One thing that is important to note, the president from the White House today was saying he has no choice, he has to have this wall. Drones don't work. Technology doesn't work.

    He also repeated some misleading claims that he's done. He said that there's drugs pouring in, that our country's being invaded. What we do know is that drugs usually are smuggled in through legal ports of entry, and that border crossings are at a historic low for the last two decades.

    Another thing to note, the president said that he really feels as though Republicans are holding the line, and he's honored that Republicans are holding the line for him.

    He did talk about Wilbur Ross' controversial comments. He said that Wilbur Ross perhaps should have said something differently. But he also suggested — and it has a lot of people scratching their heads — that grocery stores might work with people. So there's this idea that he thinks federal workers might be able to run up tabs at grocery stores and be able to pay them off when they — when they finally get paid.

    Another thing to note, though, is that the president is talking a little bit differently about Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He said that the reason why he decided to postpone the State of the Union address is because he found Nancy Pelosi's offer to be reasonable.

    Now, reasonable is not a word that the president has been using with opponents in the past. But with Nancy Pelosi, he is saying, I'm not going to give you a nickname, and I'm going to call you reasonable.

    So that might mean that there's some sort of changes coming ahead.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we are watching closely. The two of you are watching it more closely than anybody.

    Yamiche Alcindor, Lisa Desjardins, thank you both.

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