The House and Senate each convened for fewer than four minutes on Thursday, and the most substantive thing either chamber did involved House Republicans ignoring an attempt by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) to introduce legislation to reopen the full federal government. About a quarter of the government has been shuttered since Saturday amid an impasse over President Trump's demands for $5 billion toward his border wall. The 800,000 federal employees furloughed or working without pay are hunkering down for an extended, often financially fraught standoff.
Congressional Republicans have given up on reaching a solution before Democrats take over the House on Jan. 3. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is considering at least three options to get the money flowing quickly, and none of them provide more than $1.3 billion for border security and fence maintenance.
The first option funds all shuttered departments and agencies at current levels through Feb. 8, the second would fund those agencies at current levels through the end of the fiscal year, and the third option involves passing all the outstanding appropriations bills except for Homeland Security, instead financing the department charged with border security at current levels through a stopgap measure. Pelosi's team is also "weighing including multiple funding options in a package of rules for the new Congress," Politico reports, giving "Trump and Senate Republicans several options to choose from."
Senate Republicans say they will only bring up a bill that has 60 votes and Trump has publicly agreed to sign. Democrats don't consider Trump a reliable negotiating partner. They believe they have the political upper hand and hope that if they pass a spending bill, openly frustrated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "will feel pressure to act," Politico reports. "McConnell could also choose to bring whatever House Democrats pass up for a vote, allowing it to publicly fail as a way to force Mr. Trump and Democrats to the negotiating table," The New York Times adds.