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story.lead_photo.caption Lights shine inside the U.S. Capitol as night falls Sunday in Washington and as Congress continues to negotiate during the second day of the federal government shutdown.

WASHINGTON -- The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said negotiations were still underway into the night, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill scheduled for noon today.

Seeking to win over holdout votes, McConnell pledged Sunday that the Senate would take up legislation on some top Democratic priorities, including immigration, if they aren't already addressed by Feb. 8.

"We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward," Schumer said, adding that talks would continue.

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McConnell's commitment follows hours of behind-the-scenes talks between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the two-day display of legislative dysfunction. The Senate adjourned without voting Sunday, guaranteeing the shutdown would continue into a third day.

Earlier Sunday, the gathering of senators from the two parties offered a reason for cautious optimism that a deal could be reached before the workweek began.

The best hope for a breakthrough appeared to be with a group of about 20 senators from both parties who were meeting throughout the weekend to try to hammer out a compromise to present to McConnell and Schumer.

The group was discussing a plan in which the government would stay open through Feb. 8, to be coupled with a promise that the Senate would tackle the issue of immigration in the coming weeks. Several members signaled optimism Sunday afternoon.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said "McConnell listened very carefully" to the bipartisan compromise and that she "remains optimistic that we will find a way out."

The proposed Feb. 8 expiration date was designed to at least partially accommodate Democrats' demand that any temporary funding extension be shorter than the House proposal. But the more significant piece of any possible deal to end the shutdown would be what other strings are attached -- particularly when it comes to the politically contentious issue of immigration.

Lawmakers in the House were mostly left to watch and wait as their Senate colleagues tried to come together.

Ryan said Sunday that House Republicans had agreed to pass McConnell's stopgap proposal if it made it out of the Senate. The onus of ending the shutdown, he said, was on Senate Democrats, and he urged them to vote to reopen the government and then restart separate immigration negotiations.

"This is solely done by the Senate Democrats," Ryan said on CBS' Face the Nation. "It's absolutely meaningless. They shut down the government over a completely unrelated issue."

McConnell and Schumer met in the late afternoon in a private room just off the Senate floor, but no resolution was immediately forthcoming.

Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats were bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they would ultimately buckle. The White House and GOP leadership said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened.

There were indications Sunday that Democratic resolve was beginning to waver, with growing worries that a prolonged shutdown could prove to be an electoral headache for the party just as Democrats have grown confident about prospects in November.

The Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, indicated that Republican leaders were skeptical that Democrats would budge. Asked whether he thought the government would be closed today, he said, "Right now, yes, I do."


As lawmakers feuded, signs of the shutdown were evident at national parks and in some federal agencies. Social Security and most other safety-net programs were unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions continued, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay.

Vice President Mike Pence, weighing in from the Middle East, accused Congress of playing politics with military pay, and told American soldiers stationed near the Syrian border that the Trump administration would demand that lawmakers reopen the government.

Pence said service members and their families "shouldn't have to worry about getting paid."

"Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay," Pence said at the base, speaking in front of a large U.S. flag and a line of soldiers dressed in military fatigues. "But you deserve better."

Pence said the Trump administration would not reopen negotiations "on illegal immigration" until Congress reopens the government. "We're going to meet our obligations to you and your families," Pence said. "I urge you, on behalf of your commander in chief, set aside any distractions, mind your mission, take care of one another."

Lawmakers were mindful that the political stakes would soar today, when thousands of federal workers would be told to stay home or, in some cases, work without pay. What was still a weekend burst of Washington dysfunction could spiral into a broader crisis with political consequences in November's midterm elections.

That threat prompted moderates to huddle for a second day Sunday in hopes of crafting a plan to reopen the government.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said the potential deal would not secure an immediate vote on immigration tied to reopening the government, but lawmakers were seeking "an agreement that we would proceed to immigration."

The approach found advocates in South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been trying to broker an immigration deal, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both Republicans who rejected an earlier short-term proposal. Lawmakers took the proposal to their leaders Sunday afternoon.

But shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, Graham said no deal had been reached by the moderate group because Democrats were not on board. "To my Democratic friends, don't overplay your hand," he told reporters. "A government shutdown is not a good way to get an outcome legislatively."

Schumer indicated earlier Sunday that he would continue to lead a filibuster of the stopgap spending measure, while congressional Republicans appeared content to let the pressure build on the second day of the government shutdown. After Senate Democrats blocked a temporary government-wide funding bill Friday night, both parties engaged in furious finger-pointing.

Democrats, who initially dug in on a demand for legislation to protect about 700,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children, shifted to blame the shutdown on the incompetence of President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership. Republicans argued that Democrats shuttered the government over "illegal immigration" in a bid to gin up enthusiasm among their base.

"I think they miscalculated on the shutdown," Cornyn said. "It's very unpopular and they're trying to find a way out of it."

Five Democrats from states won by Trump broke ranks in a vote Friday. The measure gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster.

Trump, who regularly disrupted negotiations in recent weeks, had been a relatively subdued player in the weekend debate. He has not appeared in public since Friday afternoon. The White House said he was in regular contact with Republican leaders, but he has not reached out to any Democrats, a White House official said.

Sunday morning on Twitter, he called on the GOP-controlled Senate to consider deploying the "nuclear option" -- changing Senate rules to end the filibuster -- and reopen the government with a simple majority.

McConnell dismissed that option, saying Republicans will welcome the filibuster when they return to being the Senate minority.

Democrats are facing intense pressure from their base to solve the issue over the young illegal immigrants, and they are skeptical of Republicans' credibility when offering to deal. Whether Trump would back the emerging plan or any later proposal on immigration is an open question. Even if the Senate voted on an immigration proposal, its prospects in the House would be grim.

Furthermore, Democrats view Trump as an infuriating bargaining partner, pointing chiefly to his failed eleventh-hour talks with Schumer on Friday. The Democrat says Trump expressed support for a fix for the young immigrants in return for financing for Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border -- only to back off hours later. The White House says Schumer and the president never came to terms.

"How can you negotiate with the president under those circumstances where he agrees face to face to move forward with a certain path and then within two hours calls back and pulls the plug?" asked Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Sunday on ABC's This Week.

Information for this article was contributed by Zeke Miller, Catherine Lucey, Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram, Ken Thomas and Lolita C. Baldor of The Associated Press; by Nicholas Fandos and Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times; and by Justin Sink, Arit John, Sahil Kapur and other staff members of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 01/22/2018

Print Headline: Shutdown in 3rd day as Senate talks go on

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