Government shutdown looms as lawmakers seek late compromise

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday there was a good chance the Senate would not approve his demand for $5 billion toward funding his long-demanded border wall and that there probably would be a partial U.S. government shutdown at midnight.

Lawmakers scrambled to find an 11th-hour solution to avert the potential shutdown, meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House officials. Negotiators in the Senate were discussing legislation that would include $1.6 billion in border security money and retaining assistance for areas hit by natural disasters that was added by the House of Representatives, according to a Republican Senate aide.

Before meeting with Senate Republicans at the White House, Trump wrote on Twitter that "Democrats now own the shutdown," despite having said last week that he would be "proud" to close the federal government over the issue of border security and "I'll be the one to shut it down."

Photos of the week: 12/14 - 12/21
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Photos of the week: 12/14 - 12/21
Part of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation letter to President Donald Trump is photographed in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Mattis is stepping down from his post, Trump announced, after the retired Marine general clashed with the president over a troop drawdown in Syria and Trump's go-it-alone stance in world affairs. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Fans leave tributes on Penny Marshall's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame shortly after the news that the actress died aged 75 was made public, in Hollywood, California, on December 18, 2018. - Penny Marshall, the star of ABC's 'Laverne and Shirley' who became one of the most successful female directors in history at the helm of 'Big,' 'A League of Their Own' and a string of other hit movies, has died. She was 75. The filmmaker died peacefully in her Hollywood Hills on Monday, December 17, 2018 due to complications from diabetes, her publicist told AFP. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., right, joins Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, center, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, in an Instagram Live post before they participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, on prison reform legislation. A criminal justice bill passed in the Senate gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
PORT TALBOT, WALES - DECEMBER 20: People gather around fences that have been erected to protect the latest piece of artwork by the underground guerrilla artist Banksy on December 20, 2018 in Port Talbot, Wales. The British graffiti artist who keeps his identity a secret, confirmed yesterday that the artwork was his using his verified Instagram account to announce 'Season's greetings' with a video of the artwork in Port Talbot. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn passes by members of the media as he departs after his sentencing was delayed at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Passengers wait to check in at Gatwick Airport in England, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. Flights resumed at London's Gatwick Airport on Friday morning after drones sparked the shutdown of the airfield for more than 24 hours, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded or delayed during the busy holiday season. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 17: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 17, 2018 in New York City. Stocks fell again in morning trading as investors remain jittery over trade with China, interest rates and the threat of a global slowdown. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A surfer exits a wave while surfing at Black's Beach Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, in San Diego. Large surf continued to pound the California coast Tuesday, as officials warned of dangerous currents along the beaches and hazardous conditions at sea. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
President Donald Trump walks with an umbrella from Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, after visiting during Wreaths Across America Day. Wreaths Across America was started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester and has expanded to hundreds of veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Houses on fire are seen at Educandos neighbourhood, a branch of the Rio Negro, a tributary to the Amazon river, in the city of Manaus, Brazil December 17, 2018. Picture taken December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 21: A Gentoo penguin gets into the festive spirit of Christmas by interacting with Christmas baubles at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium on December 21, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. Part of their enrichment, keepers placed a dozen baubles onto the ice for the creatures to play with during the day. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Former first lady Michelle Obama, left, is interviewed by Sarah Jessica Parker during an appearance for her book, "Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama" at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
OPA LOCKA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 17: U.S. Postal service mail handler Nikeisha Mitchell sorts packages at the U.S. Postal service's Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center on December 17, 2018 in Opa Locka, Florida. The U.S. Postal Service's busiest week of the year began Monday as the Christmas rush is on with the postal service expecting to deliver three billion pieces of mail this week, including greeting cards, before Christmas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Honduran asylum seekers are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents after the group crossed the U.S. border wall into San Diego, California, seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
The Capitol is seen under early morning skies in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. The Senate approved legislation to temporarily fund the government late last night, a key step toward averting a federal shutdown after President Donald Trump backed off his demand for money for a border wall with Mexico. The House is expected to vote before Friday's deadline, when funding for a portion of the government expires. Without resolution, more than 800,000 federal workers would face furloughs or be forced to work without pay, disrupting government operations days before Christmas. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
LHASA, CHINA - DECEMBER 18: Special police of Tibet Armed Police Corps take part in an anti-terrorism drill in snow on December 18, 2018 in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China. (Photo by Yu Wenbin/VCG via Getty Images)
Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Boring Company Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, south of Los Angeles, California on December 18, 2018. - Musk explained that the snail moves 14 times faster than a tunnel-digging machine. On Tuesday night December 18, 2018, Boring Co. officially opened the Hawthorne tunnel, a preview of Elon Musk's larger vision to ease L.A. traffic. (Photo by Robyn Beck / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A Santa Claus sculpture is fixed on the roof rack of a Volkswagen Beetle vintage car decorated with a light chain on December 19, 2018 in front of a house in Ertingen, southern Germany. (Photo by Thomas Warnack / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read THOMAS WARNACK/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge (accompanied by his nanny María Borrallo) attend a Christmas lunch for members of the Royal Family hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on December 19, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Contestants congratulate new Miss Universe Catriona Gray, center, from Philippines during the final round of 67th Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A picture taken on December 17, 2018 in Herrlisheim shows jewish headstones tagged with swastika symbol at a Jewish cemetery, eastern France. - 37 headstones and a memorial for Shoah victims have been desacrated overnight December 10, 2018. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP) (Photo credit should read SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)
A young silverback gorilla searches for food in an advent calendar as animals are given meals styled along a Christmas theme in London, Britain, December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Residents react during a gathering being held in a central square of the eastern French city of Strasbourg, Sunday Dec.16, 2018 to pay homage to the victims of a gunman who killed four people and wounded a dozen more. The gathering was held in Kleber Square by a Christmas market and near where the gunman opened fire last Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
Retiring U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan arrives to deliver his farewell address in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks to head chef Stuart Jones as she visits the Royal Variety Charity's residential nursing and care home at Brinsworth House on December 18, 2018 in Twickenham, England. (Photo by Geoff Pugh- WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Harvey Weinstein removes his jacket as he passes through a security checkpoint upon arriving at New York Supreme Court, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in New York. Judge James Burke will decide on the future of Weinstein's sexual assault case, which has been clouded by allegations that police acted improperly in the investigation that led to his arrest. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Firefighters burn flammable material and a mock coffin, during a protest demanding better work conditions, in front of the Catalunya Parliament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A crew member of a cargo ship that ran aground carrying a suitcase is rescued with the help of a winch system extended from the shore, off the Black Sea coast of Sile, Turkey, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. Turkish coastal safety teams have rescued 16 crew members from the in a dramatic operation that lasted several hours.The Comoros-flagged ship, Natalia, ran aground in rough seas early on Wednesday en route to Istanbul from Russia.(Akin Celiktas/DHA via AP)
Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, rest at a temporary shelter near the U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
KING'S LYNN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Queen Elizabeth II arrives by train at King's Lynn Station to begin the Christmas Holidays at Sandringham on December 20, 2018 in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
People skate on the ice rink opened on Manezhnaya Square decorated for Christmas and New Year celebrations near Red Square with the Kremlin Wall in the background in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A resident looks out at the scorched remains of the Educandos neighborhood in Manaus, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. Officials say the fire engulfed the neighborhood in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus and destroyed at least 600 wooden houses. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)
Elvira Choc, 59, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal's grandmother, rests her head on her hand in front of her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year old girl died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Immigrants participate in a naturalization ceremony to become U.S. citizens in Los Angeles, California, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Polar Express makes it's last stop on the Roanoke City Farmer's Market for parade goers to admire as part of the Downtown Roanoke Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 in Roanoke, Va. The float was sponsored by the Western Virginia Water Authority and won first place. (Don Petersen/The Roanoke Times via AP)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on December 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Graham and Sen. Robert Menendez (L) (R-NJ) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) spoke out against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to remove U.S. military forces from Syria. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
HALF MOON BAY, CA - DECEMBER 17: A surfer rides a wave at Mavericks on December 17, 2018 in Half Moon Bay, California. A giant swell brought waves of up to 50 feet high to Northern California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Italy's Dorothea Wierer skis past a holiday tree as she competes in the women's Biathlon World Cup 7.5 km sprint event in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Police officers inspect the scene where a car plowed into a bus stop in Recklinghausen, Germany December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HARBIN, CHINA - DECEMBER 19: Workers carve the main sculpture ahead of the Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Exposition on December 19, 2018 in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province of China. The snow sculpture is 33 meters high and over 100 meters long. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Congressional funding for large segments of the government expires at midnight (0500 GMT), and a shutdown would ensue if Congress, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, does not pass legislation to provide money to keep the agencies open.

"It's possible that we'll have a shutdown. I would say the chances are probably very good," Trump said at the White House.

"We're going to get a wall," Trump added.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer put the blame for the impending shutdown squarely on Trump.

"President Trump has thrown a temper tantrum and now has us careening toward a 'Trump shutdown' over Christmas," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

"You're not getting the wall today, next week or on January 3rd, when Democrats take control of the House," Schumer added.

A Schumer spokesman said the senator met with Pence, Trump's new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

A senior Senate Republican aide said there was hope that Democrats and Republicans could find a "sweet spot" in a temporary spending bill that would provide more money for border security than was in the bill the Senate passed earlier this week - but not the $5 billion for a wall that the House approved.

A wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking was a key Trump campaign promise in the 2016 election, when he said it would be paid for by Mexico, and he sees it as a winning issue for his 2020 re-election campaign. Democrats oppose the wall, calling it unnecessary and ineffective.

Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Marco Rubio expressed frustration with what they said was a shifting position by the White House. Rubio said that earlier in the week the Republicans went with their funding bill, which included $1.6 billion for general border security but nothing specifically for a wall, because Pence had told them the White House was open to such a proposal.

"We had a reasonable path and there was every indication from the president that he would sign it," Alexander said.


Trump had summoned Senate Republicans to the White House on Friday morning to push for his wall funding before they took up procedural votes on whether to consider a bill passed by the House granting $5 billion for the wall. But afterward he said there was a good chance the bill would not clear the Senate and that a shutdown was likely.

The procedural vote stretched over several hours because many senators left Washington to start their Christmas break, thinking the temporary funding issue was settled on Wednesday, and had to return to the Capitol.

"If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Earlier in the week the Senate, where Republicans have a 51-49 majority, passed a short-term government funding bill that included no money for the wall. On Friday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his members to vote for a bill that was approved by the House on Thursday to give Trump $5 billion toward building the wall on the Mexican border.

In a series of early-morning tweets on Friday, Trump called on McConnell to use the "nuclear option" to force a Senate vote on legislation with a simple majority, rather than the standard "supermajority" of 60 votes. But there was not enough support among Republican senators to do so.


The possibility of a government shutdown fed investor anxieties that contributed to another down day on Friday for U.S. stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.82 percent, the S&P 500 lost 2.06 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.99 percent.

The showdown added to tensions in Washington as lawmakers also grappled with Trump's sudden move to pull troops from Syria, which prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign and furthered concerns over the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election that Trump won.

Three-quarters of government programs are fully funded through the end of the federal fiscal year next Sept. 30, including those in the Defense Department, Labor Department and Health and Human Services.

But funding for other agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Agriculture Department, was set to expire at midnight on Friday.

A partial government shutdown could begin with affected agencies limiting staff to those deemed "essential" to public safety. Such critical workers, including U.S. border agents, and nonessential employees would not get paid until the dispute ends. National parks also would close unless the government declares them essential.

More than half of the 1,700 people who work for the executive office of the president would be furloughed.

Trump had planned to leave Washington on Friday for a holiday stay at his Florida resort, but the standoff made his plans uncertain.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Ginger Gibson, Roberta Rampton and Susan Heavey; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

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