WASHINGTON — The three-day government shutdown is on the verge of ending after enough Senate Democrats joined Republicans to advance a three-week extension of funding in exchange for GOP assurances that Congress would take up a larger immigration bill in that time.
The stopgap funding measure, which needed 60 votes to clear a key procedural hurdle, was approved 81 to 18.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the agreement shortly ahead of the vote: “After several discussions, offers, counter-offers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement, with the commitment that, if an agreement isn’t reached by February 8, the Senate will immediately proceed to consideration of legislation dealing with DACA.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had scheduled a vote for noon on the short-term funding proposal with a pledge to continue working on immigration issues, but Democrats had questioned his commitment. A bipartisan group of senators worked behind the scenes throughout the morning to find a solution, and Democrats emerged from a caucus meeting announcing they would support the measure.
McConnell also spoke prior to the vote, saying, “I think if we learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over an issue of illegal immigration is something the American people didn’t understand. And would not have understood in the future. So I’m glad we’ve gotten past that and we have a chance now to get back to work.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Democrats got enough to satisfy them moving forward. “We got a path clear on how we’re going to get a full year budget and we got a path clear on who we’re going to start the immigration debate. I think that’s significant. That’s not what we had before.”
Monday’s noon vote will reopen the government by extending funding through February 8. It will also extend the low-income children’s health insurance program, CHIP, for six years and suspend some taxes under the Affordable Care Act.
After final passage in the Senate, the House is expected to pass the measure Monday afternoon.
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