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Where Congress stands now on government shutdown

The GOP's short-term spending deal to fund the government until February was expected to be solidified Thursday. Instead, Congress erupted into chaos as President Trump declared he wouldn't sign bill, resuming his insistence that $5 billion be allocated for a border wall. As the deadline to avoid a government shutdown looms, Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins discuss with Judy Woodruff.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, this news comes as another drama is taking place in Washington, Congress facing a new showdown tonight over a partial government shutdown.

    An apparent agreement blew up today when President Trump rejected a temporary spending bill passed by the Senate, but that doesn't include $5 billion for a southern border wall. He appeared to retreat from that demand earlier in the week, but he took a tougher line today, after a backlash from conservatives.

  • Donald Trump:

    Any measure that funds the government must include border security. It has to, not for political purposes, but for our country, for the safety of our community. This is not merely my campaign promise. This is the promise every lawmaker made.

    It is the solemn promise to protect and defend the United States of America, and it is our sacred obligation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    More now on all this with our "NewsHour" White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, and our Capitol Hill correspondent, Lisa Desjardins

    As if there wasn't already enough going on, we have this going on between the Capitol and the White House.

    So, Lisa, where does it stand right now?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It was quite a day.

    Here's where we are right now. House Republicans have sort of switched the plan midstream today and they are now offering a new continuing resolution to keep these agencies funded. That would contain $5 billion, as the president is requesting, for border money.

    They say that would go to a wall. Now, here's the thing, Judy. It is not clear if either the House or Senate will actually pass that version. We expect the House to vote very soon. That could even be this hour or it could be in coming hours.

    We are unclear if the Senate will be able to vote, but Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader, has told senators to be ready for a vote on this as soon as tomorrow, which, of course, is the deadline.

    Finally, another issue is that the Senate has already passed its own funding bill. That's what we thought would pass today. But the president has said he will not sign that.

    So these three legs of the chair have yet to align. The House is voting tonight. And that will be a very big vote.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And not entirely clear what that money would go toward, as I hear you saying.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I talked to Democrats, whose opinion, of course, is critical. They believe that is wall money. And we're going to hear from the Democratic leaders, Pelosi and Schumer, soon. They expect to oppose this House bill, which could be a problem.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, what is it that the president now wants from Congress?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president wants a deal that's going to make him look strong, and he wants $5 billion for border wall.

    Now, earlier this week, that was exactly the opposite of what the White House said they were going to do. Sarah Sanders came out, the White House press secretary, and said, we will find the $5 billion somewhere else. We will even request federal agencies look into their budgets to see where they might be able to put this $5 billion.

    But then, essentially, the president changed his mind. And, again, we are where we are right now. It's important to note that, apart from launching in Congress having some opposition to this bill, that they were conservative voices in the media in some of the channels that the president watches also voicing their opinions.

    Rush Limbaugh, who is a popular conservative radio host, accused the president of caving in on getting border wall money. Laura Ingraham, who's a FOX News host, said that they — we should bring on the shutdown.

    So the president was also watching these things essentially and heard that and was very worried about whether or not that could be something that would be seen as a promise broken, which, of course, is what we heard in that clip that we just played.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And so, Lisa, what is going on with Republicans? I mean, with this kind of pressure coming from their right flank, what's happening?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This morning seems like a week ago.

    This morning, House and Senate thought they were going to pass this bill, funding would be taken care of. But I think Yamiche is on to it. Conservative Freedom Caucus members sensed an opening. And, as we talked about last night, they were pressuring the president as well.

    When the House Republicans met this morning, they started talking about the fact that no one was confident about where the president was at all. So, even members who liked the Senate bill were scared to vote for it, because they were worried that it would pass, and then the president would change his mind.

    So they said to Paul Ryan, figure out where the president is. We want to hear from him today.

    They got that answer. And it changed everything.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, how far is the president prepared to take this? Is he prepared to see the government shut down?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    It sounds like the president…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Partially shut down.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    It sounds like the president is ready to — to shut down the government, and also might be proud to shut down the government.

    But we should remind people what a government shutdown or partial government shutdown would mean. Some of the agencies that would be impacted, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture and Interior, and the Justice Department and the State Department.

    So we're not talking about small agencies that might be — that we might be able to operate without. The Department of Homeland Security is the heart of where the president wants to do border security. And they could be out of work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's…

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Or unpaid while they're working, if they're essential, yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Or unpaid.

    And we're waiting to see. And we are literally waiting now, as you're saying, Lisa. The vote could be coming.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I'm watching my phone at this moment.

    And even as much as it feels when you're in Congress like, oh, a shutdown is coming, the truth is Judy, bizarrely, a day is a lot of time. There's a day until this deadline.

    And so there is a lot of room to potentially maneuver right now. It's hard to figure out how they get there, but, often, somehow they do.

    There could be something about semantics in terms of what is border security money that they work out. We will have to wait and see.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Twenty-four, 30 whole hours.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I know, imagine, loads of time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both.

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