Partial government shutdown to continue through next week

WASHINGTON — Just hours after Congress gaveled into session Saturday, the Senate adjourned with Democrats and the White House still far from striking a deal to reopen the government.

Senate leaders announced that the chamber would meet next for a pro forma session Monday, but would not actually convene again a scheduled session until Thursday, Dec. 27.

The move meant that the partial government shutdown that began just after midnight Saturday was likely to continue well into next week.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a key figure in the president’s corner in this fight, told NBC News that Vice President Mike Pence came to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., today with a presidential request that fell between the $1.6 billion initially negotiated in Congress weeks ago, and the $5 billion figure passed by the House but rejected by the Senate this week.

“The vice president came in for a discussion and made an offer. Unfortunately, we’re still very far apart,” a Schumer spokesperson told reporters.

After lunch with conservative lawmakers at the White House Saturday, President Donald Trump is prepared for a longer fight, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who attended the lunch, told NBC.

“We came out of the lunch with a commitment from the president that we’re going to get more than $1.6 billion for the wall,” Graham said.

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Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown
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Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown
The entrance to the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is decorated for the holidays as Congress tries to pass legislation that would avert a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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)
House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves the chamber as a revised spending bill is introduced that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., leave after talking to reporters as a revised spending bill is introduced in the House that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., walks to the chamber as a revised spending bill is introduced that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker Paul Ryan walks to the chamber as a revised spending bill is introduced that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, arrive to talk to reporters as a revised spending bill is introduced in the House that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, heads into a House Republican strategy meeting as Congress tries to pass legislation that would avert a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Reporters at the Capitol wait for Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to return from the White House as Congress tries to pass legislation that would avert a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., is surrounded by reporters as he leaves the chamber as President Donald Trump and Congress bicker over terms for funding the government and his demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, pushing the government to the brink of a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., top, is met by reporters at the Capitol after he and Speaker Paul Ryan returned from the White House as Congress tries to pass legislation that would avert a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, speaks during a television interview at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. President Donald Trump insisted on funding a wall or other barrier along the southern U.S. border as tensions over a possible partial government shutdown intensified in the wake of the presidents refusal to sign a stopgap spending bill. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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On the Hill, lawmakers in both parties said much of the confusion at this point is how money is directed, and what exactly constitutes an acceptable wall, fence or barrier — a key political point for Democrats who won’t support a “wall,” and Republicans who demand one.

“To me it doesn’t matter what we want, let’s have a design that works,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told NBC. “The president put out a tweet of a picture with spikes on top of fencing, that’s not even in the conversation. That’s not even in one of the designs the border patrol has proposed.”

The White House continued recent signals it was open to a more expansive definition. When asked if Trump is demanding funding for a concrete wall as part of the deal to end the shutdown, a senior administration official told reporters Saturday he was not: “He wants $5 billion in physical barrier... He is not insisting on this being a concrete barrier.”

A Senate Democratic aide said the House and Senate leadership of both parties — as well as the president himself — would all need to sign off on any deal before it went up for a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in closing remarks on the Senate floor Saturday, said "productive discussions are continuing."

"When those negotiations produce a solution that is acceptable to all parties — which means 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House, and a presidential signature — at that point, we will take it up here on the Senate floor,” he said.

President Trump, who put a scheduled holiday trip to Mar-a-Lago on hold Friday, tweeted Saturday morning that he was "in the White House, working hard."

"We are negotiating with the Democrats on desperately needed Border Security (Gangs, Drugs, Human Trafficking & more) but it could be a long stay," he said, before meeting with top advisers and GOP lawmakers.

It remained unclear exactly how long the shutdown would last: days, weeks, or even into early January, when Democrats will retake the House majority.

This marks the third shutdown of the year and of the Trump administration. The first, in January, lasted 69 hours. The second, which occurred in February, lasted 9 hours.

Under the current partial shutdown, more than 420,000 federal employees will be required to work without pay and an additional 380,000 will be sent home, according to a fact sheet compiled by Senate Democrats. TSA employees, Correctional officers, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, Border Patrol officers, Coast Guard employees, Forest Service firefighters and Weather Service forecasters are all expected to continue working without pay.

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