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Partial government shutdown assured after lawmakers leave Capitol without budget deal

By Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and John Wagner

House and Senate lawmakers are leaving the Capitol on Friday evening without passing a budget deal, ensuring there will be a partial government shutdown when funding for a large number of federal agencies lapses at midnight.

The House adjourned shortly before 7 p.m., as officials gave notice the chamber would not reconvene until noon on Saturday. Senators began leaving as well, and lawmakers from both chambers were told leaders would try to give them at least 24 hours’ notice before any votes.

Lawmakers left amid last-minute talks between White House officials and congressional leaders, who had worked to resolve an impasse over President Trump’s demands for billions of dollars of federal funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some federal agencies, including those that oversee homeland security, law enforcement, tax collection, and transportation, will have to begin shutting down certain operations at midnight as a result of the funding lapse. The impact on those agencies will grow if the shutdown drags on for days or weeks.

Other federal agencies, including the Pentagon, are unaffected, as their budgets were approved earlier in the year.

And the Senate narrowly passed a procedural vote in the evening the Republican and Democratic leaders said preserved the possibility of a compromise, though it is now clear that any deal would not come in time to prevent a funding lapse.

“I hope Senate Democrats will work with the White House on an agreement that can pass both houses of Congress and then receive the president’s signature,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told other lawmakers after the vote passed 48-47, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats were open to discussions with the White House and Republicans, but he said they would not agree to any measure that funded the new construction of a border wall.

Trump and Schumer had dug in after the president reversed course Thursday morning and renewed his demand for taxpayer money to build the wall. But there were signs of a late thaw on Friday, when McConnell, Democrats, and Vice President Mike Pence began huddling separately in the Capitol.

Pence separately joined Trump adviser Jared Kushner and White House budget Director Mick Mulvaney for a meeting with House conservatives.

The construction of a wall along the Mexico border was one of Trump’s top campaign promises in 2016, and he had promised that Mexico would finance the entire project. But since taking office, he has demanded the money come from Congress, and Senate Democrats have easily blocked every attempt.

In recent days, Trump has tried a number of different tactics to try and secure the money. He called on cabinet secretaries to search their budgets for extra money, and on Wednesday he pronounced the entire project would be funded by the military. But by Thursday he was back to demanding that the money come from U.S. taxpayers, leaving many GOP lawmakers scrambling to accede to his demands.

Trump sees the final days of 2018 as his last, best chance to secure the funding, because Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

Last week, he told lawmakers he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the issue, and he urged McConnell to change longstanding Senate rules on Friday so that a House-passed measure to keep the government open through Feb. 8 while providing $5.7 billion for the wall could pass even without support from Democrats.

McConnell refused.

“We’re going to be working very hard to get something passed in the Senate,” Trump said earlier Friday in the Oval Office. “Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight. I hope we don’t but we’ve very much prepared for a long shutdown.”

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