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Shutdown countdown on, these are the hurdles standing in the way of a deal

With the House voting Thursday night on a spending bill while Senate support crumbles, the answer to whether the federal government is a day away from closing down is anything but clear. A House Republican bill would extended funding for a month, but that plan faced opposition from both parties, while the blame game escalated. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The federal government may be just one day away from closing down, for lack of funds.

    With the House of Representatives voting tonight on a spending bill, and Senate support crumbling, the ultimate outcome is anything but clear.

    Lisa Desjardins reports on how the day played out.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Over the Capitol, the gathering winds of a possible shutdown, because inside only one funding bill was on the table. And it was in trouble.

    The House Republican bill would fund government for a month, suspend several Obamacare medical taxes for up to two years, and to woo votes, it would fund the popular Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, for six years. But that bill had problems in both parties.

    Republican members of the House Freedom Caucus, as well as some Senate Republicans, said short-term spending bills are too harmful for the military, and they threatened to vote no.

    President Trump was at the Pentagon today to underscore the GOP's point.

  • President Donald Trump:

    If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Democrats similarly threatened to vote no, but because there is no deal on how to protect DACA recipients. Those are people brought here illegally as children.

    One sure sign that a shutdown was closer, the escalating blame game. Republican Speaker Paul Ryan pointed to Democrats, especially on the other side of the Capitol.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan:

    If the Senate Democrats want to shut the government down, if the Senate Democrats want to deny funding for our troops, if the Senate Democrats want to stop CHIP funding for unrelated issues, that's a choice they would make. I don't think it's a good choice for them to make.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to Republicans, saying they have ignored DACA and other non-defense issues.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    If I had to say what the main holdup in all of this is the lack of willingness on the part of Republicans in Congress to support a domestic agenda increase, as they support a military increase.

    This is like giving you a bowl of doggie doo, put a cherry on top, and call it a chocolate sundae. This is nothing.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    To this stormy divide, President Trump himself added even more turbulence, initially seeming to tweet against the House funding bill, writing that "CHIP should be part of a long-term solution."

    One Republican leader tweeted back to tell the president the CHIP portion of the bill is in fact a long-term deal. The White House later clarified the president supports the House bill.

    Later, touring a business in Pennsylvania, the president said Democrats want a shutdown to undermine his success.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I really believe the Democrats want a shutdown to get off the subject of the tax cuts, because they have worked so well.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As for the chances of a shutdown?

  • President Donald Trump:

    We will see what happens.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    On the House floor, by the afternoon, Oklahoma's Tom Cole made a plea to both parties to pass the one-month bill.

  • Rep. Tom Cole:

    Facts do matter here. And the fact of the matter is, anyone who votes no on this resolution is voting to shut down the government.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There are now just over 24 hours for lawmakers to work out a deal before some government functions begin to shut down.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we get a deeper look now at the government shutdown fight with Lisa. She's joining us from Capitol Hill. And Yamiche Alcindor.

    Hello to both of you.

    So, Lisa, I'm dizzy listening to all of this. Where does everything stand right now?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We actually have some breaking news, Judy.

    Just minutes ago, our Capitol Hill producer, Julie Percha, was outside a meeting with the Freedom Caucus and Speaker Paul Ryan, Freedom Caucus, the conservative group.

    Leader Mark Meadows says the speaker has offered him a deal, to add more for the Defense Department in this C.R. They don't say what that is exactly, but the Freedom Caucus chairman says he likes that deal. He is going to take it back to his conference.

    And, Judy, I think what this means is that passage of this short-term spending bill has become much more likely in the House tonight. But that is not the endgame here. There are still very serious problems in the Senate.

    And, in fact, let's look at the no votes we learned about today in a graphic. Republican no votes that we know of publicly, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Mike Rounds, and we also think Mike Lee may in fact be a no vote, just not stated yet.

    But there are also Democratic no votes. These are five Democrats who voted yes in December, Judy. They are all no votes now. Why does that matter?

    Because you figure out the math, and with John McCain absent right now, Republicans need some 14 Democrats in the Senate to pass a short-term spending bill. With those five Democrats as a no, they don't have it.

    So this House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. If that is the only bill in town, that means we will have a shutdown.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And I talked to — just a little while ago to Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican. And we will be playing that in a little bit on the program.

    But, meantime, Yamiche, the other big player here is the president. How do you describe his role in all of this today?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Historically, presidents are someone who have helped — are people who have helped broker deals. They have gone to visit the Hill and talked to people, had personal relationships with lawmakers that they could leverage into some sort of deals.

    In this case, President Trump has done the exact opposite. One, he doesn't have the relationship with lawmakers because he doesn't have a long history in politics, but, two, there is this issue that he is essentially really throwing some bombs.

    So there is this idea that his immigration comments continue to be something that is a cloud that is hanging over a lot of the things that are happening on the Hill. And even today, the CBC and an others were talking about censuring him. So there's this fact that the president is not helping this at all.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congressional Black Caucus, you are referring to.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:


  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa, so what does this mean then for the next few days?

  • Lisa Desjardins:


    There are two options here. One is that there is a different bill that somehow springs out of the ground here on Capitol Hill, as they can do, that might be a shorter-term funding bill, maybe one to five or six days.

    Now, Senator Cornyn's office told me today that they are rejecting that idea. But that's today. Tomorrow is the deadline. And there are some Republican senators I talked to today that think that is what could happen. That is option one.

    If there is not that kind of new shorter-term bill, then we will have a shutdown beginning tomorrow night at midnight. That will affect much of government, including many of the offices here on Capitol Hill. After that, the Senate will take sort of a procedural vote on the House bill.

    It will fail in the early morning of Saturday. And, from there, Judy, honestly, we're not sure what happens next. There are many different talks. And I think we're still a little bit in limbo on this. I think expectations are that we very well could face a shutdown, with a little bit of hope that something happens tomorrow to avoid it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we're all on the edge of our seats.

    So, Yamiche, I think we're already hearing about the blame game. And we know Democrats are saying it is the Republicans. We heard that from Nancy Pelosi.

    But the president and Republicans know they're going to be blamed. They are going to point finger at the Democrats. How is the president prepared to handle that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, there are two things that are going on.

    The first is that the president essentially is already foreshadowing the message that he is going to have toward Democrats. He visited the Pentagon today and he essentially said that our military is going to be at risk if the government shuts down. And he said essentially that we need the military more than ever.

    And I think most reporters hear that as a wink to North Korea and all the crises that we have going. The other issue is, I think that the president has really contradicted his staff. If we go back to the idea — the role that he is playing in these conversations, John Kelly told people that he has evolved on the wall.

    His staff was saying that he is fully behind this thing. And then he is tweeting that, actually, he has evolved on the wall, and the fact is that he also tweeting about this idea of a CHIP not wanting to be part of a long-term deal.

    So, there is this idea that the president is both foreshadowing messages, while also making it harder to reach a deal.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, quickly, what about the Democrats? How are they going to defend their role?

  • Lisa Desjardins:


    Well, they sort of have a simple answer. They say, Republicans are in charge, that they are the ones who run the House, Senate and the White House. Of course, most Americans know that you need 60 votes in the Senate.

    And I think, Judy, that is the bottom line. We can see clearly what is happening here. Both parties are opposing a funding deal. Both parties would be responsible for a spending deal. And it is just your perspective on which you want to blame more.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, we are all — all eyes at this point, and the American people have to be watching this with great interest or something else.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Worried, probably, a lot of anxiety and worry.

  • Judy Woodruff:


    Yamiche, Lisa, thank you both.

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