ADDS TRUMP TWEET, UPDATES LEDE AND TOP
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Senate's top Democrat met Friday with President Donald Trump in an eleventh-hour bid to fund the government as a midnight deadline rapidly approached.
Shortly after meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer, Trump wrote on Twitter that the meeting was "excellent" in a possible sign that a deal could be gaining momentum.
"Working on solutions for Security and our great Military together with @SenateMajLdr McConnell and @SpeakerRyan. Making progress – four-week extension would be best!" Trump said.
Democrats have adamantly insisted any spending bill should include a renewal of protections for individuals brought to the country illegally as children, popularly known as "Dreamers", staking their support for any spending bill on the protections' inclusion.
The House of Representatives passed the continuing resolution that would fund the government through the middle of February late Thursday with little Democratic support.
In the Senate, however, the narrow 51-seat Republican majority makes pushing the measure through that chamber without some bipartisan support a seemingly impossible task. The Republican leadership needs to gather roughly a dozen Democrats to their side to come up with a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority.
Democrats have warned they will filibuster the legislation, risking blame if the government shuts down.
"Government Funding Bill [passed] last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!" Trump posted earlier on Twitter.
During remarks to reporters, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the federal government is preparing for a government shutdown.
"It still surprises me -- and I've been through some of these before -- that the Democrats in the Senate are opposing a bill that they don't oppose," Mulvaney said. "We do not want a shutdown. But if Mr. Schumer insists on it, he is in a position to force this on the American people."
Democrats in the House and the Senate have resisted suggestions that if a shutdown occurs, it is their fault. Congress has until March 5 to vote on a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and "there's absolutely no reason to tie these two things together right now", Mulvaney said.
While speaking to Anadolu Agency on Friday, Representative Luis Gutierrez stressed that Republicans are in firm control of the legislature and it is up to them to pass the spending bill.
"The last time I checked, they're in charge," Gutierrez said, pointing to Republican control of the House of Representatives, Senate and the White House.
"Guess what? It's their mess. They created it. Release the hostages. You've taken the Dreamers hostage. Release them. We're ready to pay ransom."
If the government shuts down, federal workers would not be paid, and tasks deemed "non-essential" would not be carried out.
Law enforcement efforts, airport security, air traffic control, military operations and other tasks classified "essential" would proceed as normal, but federal employees would not be paid during the shutdown even if they work.