Corker: Breakthrough reached in shutdown stalemate

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense: Mattis stuns Washington with resignation | Letter highlights differences with Trump | Dems call exit ‘scary’ and ‘bad news’ | Trump defends Syria withdrawal | New reports say Trump weighing Afghan drawdown Trump shutdown moves leave GOP senators in disbelief Hoyer: Trump decision on Syria ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ MORE (R-Tenn.), emerging from a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Dem calls on Mattis to testify following resignation McConnell ‘distressed’ over reasons for Mattis resignation Schumer: House-passed border wall bill dead in the Senate MORE’s (R-Ky.) office, said Friday that Senate leaders have an “agreement” on how to proceed on a House-passed measure funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate Dem calls on Mattis to testify following resignation Hirono: Trump trying to blame Democrats for shutdown would be ‘such bullsh-t’ Court delays discovery in Trump emoluments case MORE’s border wall. 

Corker cautioned that it’s an agreement on process only, but expressed hope it could ultimately lead to a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown set to begin at the end of the day Friday.

McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMichelle Malkin, other conservatives rip Trump over border wall funding Feeling heat from the left, Dems reject judges deal Make Trump own the shutdown over his ill-advised border wall MORE (N.Y.) are expected to enter into the agreement on the Senate floor.

“This is will be an agreement between McConnell and Schumer about what next happens on the Senate floor. You’ll see them to enter into a little discussion,” Corker said. “It charts the course forward that gives us the best chance of actually coming to a solution.”

Corker said it could avert a government shutdown.

“Some of the folks at the White House seem to be optimistic,” he said, adding that Trump “is very aware of what’s happening.” 

Corker said the preliminary deal was agreed to in a background meeting that included himself, McConnell, Schumer and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown Iowa GOP says 2020 caucus will be open to Republican challengers Mueller protection bill blocked in Senate for third time MORE (R-Ariz.). The Republican and Democratic Senate secretaries, Laura Dove and Gary Myrick, also attended. 

The potential breakthrough comes after Schumer met with Vice President Pence, incoming White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySupreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection On The Money: Fed raises rates, defying Trump | GOP moving stopgap to prevent shutdown | Conservatives blast Trump over deal | Consumer bureau halts name change | Treasury hits Russians with new sanctions Congress must restrain power of new consumer financial director MORE and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHouse passes criminal justice overhaul, sending it to Trump Deals and disorder preview 2019 The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Senate GOP to move short-term funding bill | Judge strikes down much of Trump asylum policy | Trump makes plans to leave Syria MORE on Friday afternoon. 

The negotiations later moved over to the House, with Pence, Mulvaney and Kushner huddling in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSchumer: House-passed border wall bill dead in the Senate Senate eyes possible Friday government funding vote GOP lawmaker: Risk of work without pay is what government workers signed up for MORE’s (R-Wis.) ceremonial office with Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse passes rule to move forward with CR GOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand Trump tells GOP he won’t sign stopgap, threatening shutdown MORE (R-La.), Freedom Caucus leaders Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP lawmaker: Risk of work without pay is what government workers signed up for GOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand Schumer: ‘Temper tantrum’ won’t give GOP border wall MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSchumer: ‘Temper tantrum’ won’t give GOP border wall Trump: Talk about wall a distraction from ‘great job’ Border Patrol, ICE and military is doing Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (R-Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerGOP scrambles to prevent shutdown after right-wing insurrection New chairman looks to improve RSC’s messaging in minority Charities fear hit from Trump tax law during holidays MORE (R-N.C.).

Corker warned that the danger of a partial government shutdown is not completely gone. 

“It’s just how we’re going to proceed in a manner that we think is best,” he said. “The first discussion is not substance, it’s process.” 

Action on a government funding bill has been stalled since shortly after noon on Friday, when the Senate began voting on a motion to proceed to a House-passed measure funding government until Feb. 8 and providing $5.7 billion for a border wall. 

The vote has remained open for nearly five hours – locked at 43 votes for proceeding to the House bill and 45 votes against, a few votes short of the number needed to move ahead.

Corker has held back from voting and Flake was the only Republican to vote against it.

Senators who had already departed Washington for the Christmas break have been returning to town throughout the day to vote. 

Updated: 5:25 p.m.

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