Senate vote to fund the government fails, shutdown begins, White House responds

Senators huddle together on the floor after a vote to temporarily fund the government fails to advance. (CNN Newsource)

The Senate failed to pass a government spending bill on Friday evening to keep the federal government running. A partial government shutdown began at midnight.

A few Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the short-term funding deal that would have kept the federal government's doors open through February 16.

Senators huddled together on the floor in the hours after the vote negotiating possible ways to avoid a shutdown. However, there was no agreement reached before the critical midnight deadline.

Republican senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky broke with their party to vote against the short-term government spending bill.

Five Democratic senators voted to keep the government open, including Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Shortly before midnight, the White House issued a statement blaming Democrats for the government shutdown and indicating a tougher negotiating position on the status of illegal immigrants, a key issue Democrats wanted included in must-pass legislation.

"We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform."

The White House described the government shutdown vote on Friday as "the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators." President Trump has not yet made a statement.

On Thursday, the House approved the four-week funding bill on Thursday evening, including a provision to fund an important federal health insurance program for children, CHIP. Republicans hoped the CHIP deal would incentivize Democrats to vote for the short-term deal that did not include other key priorities.

Many Senate Democrats refused to sign on to a deal that did not include protections for the nearly 700,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A number of Republicans broke ranks with their party including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who hoped to reach a bipartisan temporary funding deal that would have given senators a tighter deadline to debate a budget and the future of the "dreamers."

RELATED | Here's what happened during the last government shutdown

Earlier in the day, there were some signs that an agreement could be reached. President Donald Trump invited Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to the White House for an extensive discussion.

After the meeting, Trump seemed optimistic tweeting, "Making progress - four week extension would be best!"

As the Republican conference met behind closed doors ahead of the 10 p.m. vote, it became clear that the measure was not going to pass.

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