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U.S. Government Expected to Shut Down at Midnight. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired January 19, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And Americans are wondering, not that the government hasn't shut down before, but in this amount of time, there has been a lot of drama. Let's get to the top of the hour. It's 11:00 here on the east coast. I'm Don Lemon. We're live with the breaking news.
I want to get right to CNN's Phil Mattingly who is on Capitol Hill, Jeff Zeleny also at the White House. So Phil, they voted. There's a pause. What's going on?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is actually a real important point. Obviously the vote is still open. We've seen a number of smaller groups develop on the Senate floor, bipartisan groups, groups that included Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer at one point, some moderate Democrats meeting with some moderate Republicans.
At one point, Senator Schumer pointing out Senator Lamar Alexander, pulling him inside the democratic cloak (ph) room, Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican and a known deal maker on the republican side of the aisle. And then just a few minutes ago, Senator Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walking off the floor.
Now, there's not a ton of detail in terms of what's actually going on right now, but I just spoke to a staffer who was on the floor, has just walked off the floor, and told me essentially they're trying to figure something out right now. It doesn't mean they're going to get there.
By all accounts, things are still in a pretty bad place. But the recognition, the reality of nothing kind of sharpens the sense is like a near-death moment or a near-death experience. Right now people are on the floor trying to discuss a pathway forward.
And as I noted, the two most important people in the United States Senate, the senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, the senate democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, walked off together off the floor with their staff.
Now, how is this all going to end up? It's an open question right now, but what's important to know is while this vote is clearly going down, the votes are already cast with the exception of John McCain who is absent and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who for procedural reasons hasn't cast his vote yet, there's still time left tonight. And people are talking. I will note, people have had the opportunity to talk and people have spoken throughout the course of the day with the same deadline intact. And they haven't reached any kind of deal yet up to this point. But the discussions are actually happening, and we are going to have to wait and see if they will actually lead to anything, Don.
LEMON: You said there's still time, Phil. Talk to me about that. What do you mean?
MATTINGLY: Well, it's 11:00 p.m. The government shuts down at 12:00 p.m. I think one of the interesting elements of the Senate, as slow and kind of slogging pace that at times it can have, the Senate can move very, very quickly if it wants to move very quickly.
Again, there's no deal that's been struck. These are just conversations and people are largely flying blind right now. Staff doesn't have their phones on the floor, and senators clearly aren't yelling up into the gallery telling reporters what's actually happening right now.
But should something develop, if every senator agrees to move forward on something, you can skip a lot of procedural steps and actually move something forward. So, here's the most important takeaway right now. The procedural vote, it's going down. No question about it.
However, during the course of this vote, there have been several bipartisan conversations including a private conversation off the floor between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
People are trying to do something. Will they succeed tonight? Will they succeed for something in the future? That's the open question right now. But keep a very close eye on this. Votes are not normally open for this long.
MATTINGLY: And these types of bipartisan meetings on the floor with so many different groups of senators, pockets of them meeting together, is not something you normally see in this type of scenario, Don.
LEMON: And that's why we have you here, Phil, because when you said it's not over yet, meaning the vote is still open and folks can change at this point. Some have not voted at this point, correct?
MATTINGLY: There's no expectation that this vote is going to change. This procedural vote is very clearly going down. Obviously if they wanted to, they could change their votes whenever they wanted to. The expectation, though, if something were to be reached, would be that they could bring something up after this.
MATTINGLY: This doesn't preclude them from doing something after this vote. Again, I don't want to say that's going to happen. I would just say that conversations are happening, conversations throughout the course of this day, Don, haven't been happening. They are happening right now at the last minute on the Senate floor.
LEMON: I feel you because again, this is open for a long time. Usually by now we would hear, you know, whether it passed or failed, the gabble would have come down. Phil, I want you to stand by.
Let's bring in Jeff now. The latest from the White House, we're hearing, Jeff, we're not going to hear from the president in person tonight. That doesn't mean a tweet or maybe a paper statement. So, what's going on at the White House?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, just as actually we were coming on the air, you can see the lights actually went off behind me here, those lights that illuminate the outside of the White House. There are still some lights on inside the White House, but what that means is essentially the White House is done for the evening.
We are told by officials here that the president is not going to be making a statement on camera of any kind tonight. Officials here will not be as well. We do expect a written statement of some sort. So when that happens, we will of course bring it to you. But beyond that, the White House is essentially
[23:05:00] out of this game for the moment. This is something that is unfolding. As Phil was just saying there, this is one of the most fascinating times in Washington, really one of the few times when members of the Senate are on the floor in a moment like this. And it's fascinating to watch as you've been talking about, Don, the Republicans and Democrats coming together and talking, having conversations.
To people watching from home, they might be wondering why doesn't this happen all the time? Why didn't this happen earlier? It's a good question. It's what's called dysfunction right in front of our eyes there. But the reality here at the White House is not expecting anything other than a shutdown at midnight tonight.
They do say the fact that it's going into a holiday weekend or a weekend, excuse me, will not cause a lot of disruption. They hope that there is a vote over the weekend before there is actually any, you know, hard, concrete examples of shutdown effects at national parks and other matters. But essentially at this point, no one here expects anything other than a shutdown come midnight, Don.
LEMON: All right. We're going to keep Jeff there, we're going to keep Phil, and we'll check back with them if need be. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
I want to bring in now David Rohde. He is a CNN global affairs analyst. Rebecca Berg is with us as well, CNN political reporter. CNN political commentator Scott Jennings back with us.
So, thank you all for joining us this evening. Again, here we are down to the wire. So, Scott, you're getting some information from Senator McConnell's office, Mitch McConnell. What can you tell us?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there are conversations going on as the reporters indicated. And in fact, one conversation that occurred was Lindsey Graham, who of course voted against the original deal here on the floor tonight, apparently went to McConnell and said, we could do a three-week extension and give ourselves a little more time.
McConnell concurred with graham. They took it to Schumer who said, I cannot sell this to my caucus. So, there was a little bit of a movement there to try and maybe get a three-week extension and give them some breathing room, but Chuck Schumer told the Republicans, I can't sell that.
So, it goes to show you that conversations are still going on. People are skeptical that something could happen in the next hour, but clearly people are trying, and that should be encouraging if you care about the government shutting down at midnight.
LEMON: Yes. I have it here. It says Lindsey Graham offered a compromise idea calling for a continuing resolution through February 8th. Again, this was before the vote. He said in a statement, I believe, that we will need a C.R. that runs past the week of the state of the union.
They wanted to get it done so that if this does go long, the president is not standing there saying the state of the union is shut down. I'm sure that was one reason. But again, it was they wanted three weeks in order to keep the government funded and open.
David, your reaction to what we're seeing right now on the Senate floor and what's playing out in Washington.
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think this is really sort of governing by base. The Democratic Party, they don't want to seem like they're rolling again. They want to keep their base energized.
It worked so well, you know, in Virginia and Alabama. And this is our politics today. Donald Trump is governing by base. It's all about not governing for the broader country, it is how do you get your supporters, you know, as riled up as possible.
LEMON: Yes. Rebecca, I want to bring you in now. You have lots of sources in Washington. Are you hearing anything from them?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely, Don. Well, already we're seeing unfolding the beginnings of the political blame game with this potential shutdown, and it's been really interesting to see the Democrats, who of course a few years ago in 2013 were saying that a shutdown would bring chaos, now saying that it's necessary to be able to push through an immigration deal.
Some saying that they don't want the short-term spending solution. They want something longer term. Really it's a role reversal from what we saw in 2013. I want to bring up some interesting polling that I was looking at earlier from 2013. After that shutdown, Republicans were widely blamed for that shutdown.
Of course you remember Ted Cruz and some others held up the government spending measure over concerns over Obamacare. Even though they were blamed for that shutdown, of course, they won the senate in 2014.
So you have to think that some Democrats tonight are thinking about the way that played out and what it might mean for them. Is this a risk politically that could pay off for them or at least not be damaging for them in an election year? It's very interesting.
LEMON: Yes. I want to bring in Brian Fallon now. Brian, should the Dems take this proposed three-week deal? Listen, I have to say that this came over as an urgent at 9:16 p.m., and people knew that before they started voting.
So, I mean, are they going to change their minds now? This whole thing with Lindsey Graham and then Lindsey Graham saying he couldn't sell it, what have you, this came over at 9:16, this is before the voting. Anderson was still on the air when this is -- does this matter at this point?
BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I don't see why the Democrats would go for that, three weeks versus four weeks. It's the same difference. It's just an excuse to punt without dealing with the DACA issue. And, you know, I keep going back to this notion that Jeff Zeleny just a minute ago was talking about, you know, why is it going up to the deadline? Dysfunctional government. Well, actually Republicans and Democrats
[23:10:00] had a deal in place with a week to spare. Last week, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, gang of six, three Democrats, three Republicans, went to the White House to present Donald Trump with a bipartisan deal that could have solved the whole problem, and Trump rejected it.
Trump previously had said, I want a bipartisan deal that deals with four planks. I want something on DACA. I want improved resources for the border. I want something to deal with family-based migration or what they call chain migration, which is a slur. And I want something to deal with the diversity visa lottery.
So the deal that Democrats and Republicans struck with all four planks, all the issues that Donald Trump said were his parameters, and he rejected it because Stephen Miller and John Kelly, the chief of staff, told him to.
And so now we're all watching the Senate floor right now. By the way, I think, Don, they're keeping the vote open only as a stalling tactic so Mitch McConnell can figure out what business to move to next. It is very unlikely anybody is going to change their vote. This vote is probably locked in. He's probably off the floor right now scrambling to figure out what's the next thing to bring up.
And so keeping the vote open is just a convenient procedural way for him to bide some time. Right now, what I expect -- you know, we're talking about looking at the Senate floor and we're talking about Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell talking to each other. The most important person is not on the screen right now and we're not talking about. It's Donald Trump.
Mitch McConnell is not going to agree to anything with Chuck Schumer. They're not going to hatch a deal on the Senate floor until Mitch McConnell knows what Donald Trump will sign. So I guarantee in those back channel meetings, somebody is on the phone with Marc Short, the legislative affairs director for the White House, or with John Kelly, the chief of state, if not Donald Trump himself, to figure out what he would accept.
We need to hear from the president. Where is the presidential leadership? You heard Jeff Zeleny say that the lights are turned off at the White House, and we're 58 minutes -- or 49 minutes away from a shutdown. There's not going to be any word from the president tonight?
There's not going to be any statement? He's not going to speak to the nation to explain, even to frame it in his terms about why the government is shutting down? This is a complete abandonment by the president, who said he was the master deal maker.
LEMON: -- I would appreciate it. Go on, Brian.
FALLON: He's going to Mar-a-Lago tomorrow --
LEMON: Do we have Jeff Zeleny?
FALLON: -- to host an event with $100,000 per couple. I mean, maybe that will work in our favor because he wants to get down there to host that event at Mar-a-Lago, but he should be negotiating right now with senators on both sides of the aisle and coming up with a deal. McConnell and Schumer cannot solve this until they know where Donald Trump stands.
LEMON: We're going to work to get our White House correspondent back and try to get some of your answers, Brian, because I think that that is true. Where is the president? What is he doing? We have about 45, 46, 47 minutes until the government shuts down, and the president has not spoken.
They said that he will not be speaking tonight. Maybe there will be a paper statement. Maybe a tweet. We don't know. But I'm sure the American people would like to know from their leader what's going on. How does he stand on this? Let's bring in --
JENNINGS: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Is that Scott? Go ahead, Scott.
JENNINGS: I just wanted to respond to Brian real quick on the president. I mean, Brian said that they won't accept a three-week deal. They don't want this deal that's currently on the floor that passed the House by a big margin. The only thing they will accept, according to Brian, is to stick a DACA fix in there, whatever that looks like. I'm not aware of the legislative language it would be. Let's just pretend there is a document floating around.
So, that's the only thing they will accept. Otherwise, it is permanent shutdown. It is indefinite shutdown. What is there to negotiate? What would you have the president do if the only thing the Democrats will accept is this one thing and nothing else?
There is no negotiation. This is just simply the Democrats saying, we will keep this government shut down indefinitely until we get the one thing we want and only one thing.
LEMON: Scott, how about reassure the American people that if the government does indeed shut down, that he has it, everything is going to be fine. They will eventually get their paychecks. It won't affect the military as has been stated. They're going to work something out with DACA. This may be the final moment and the government is shutting down and Congress may be ineffectual in his sight.
But he is the leader, the commander in chief. He is there to make the American people feel good. This will be OK. You can all go to bed and go about your business. I've got it. I'm the big guy. That's usually what presidents do. Why not this president? That's been the expectation of every single president before him.
JENNINGS: Yes, I think the thing about a government shutdown is the whole government does not shut down. In fact, very little of it actually shuts down. As Brian said earlier tonight --
LEMON: Scott, you're avoiding my question. Respectfully, Scott, you're avoiding my question.
JENNINGS: No, I'm not avoiding it. I'm saying --
LEMON: -- government shutdown. I think most people get it. We've explained that. It's going into -- we're on the weekend. So if it's going to happen, this is probably the best time for it to happen because most government employees don't work on the weekend.
LEMON: That's fine. We all get that. We're talking about the president of the United States.
[23:15:00] We're 45 minutes away from the deadline for a government shutdown and they have said -- this is the reporting and this is from the White House, as they call it a lid, meaning you're not going to hear from the president, who every single person in this country wants to hear from.
Where is the leadership? That's all I'm asking. I'm not asking you about the effects of a government shutdown. We can debate that. We're talking about the president.
JENNINGS: I think -- I think he did show some leadership today by reaching out to Schumer and trying to have a conversation. And I think the administration has tried to inform the public, as you pointed out, Don, about what would they do if a shutdown occurred. Mick Mulvaney today was talking about making plans in case the government does shut down --
LEMON: Mick Mulvaney is not the president.
JENNINGS: But I'm not -- but I'm not sure what the president would say tonight that would satisfy the Democrats. I'm not sure what give and take there could be because the Democrats have stated there's no give and take they will accept --
LEMON: All right, Scott. I understand. I'm not talking about appeasing the Democrats. I'm not talking appeasing Republicans.
I'm talking about appeasing Democrats and Republicans and the American people, those who voted for them and those who didn't, because he's the president of the United States and offering at least some clarification and some way forward as to what happens next and how he and his administration plan to handle this.
That's it. That's all I'm asking. I need to get back to the White House. Let's get back to the White House. I think that's a very important question. Jeff Zeleny is standing there on the lawn now. Jeff, you said before we went on the air, right at the top of the hour, the lights went off at the White House.
We got this notice saying there's a lid. We're not going to hear from the president. Where is the president? Why aren't we hearing from the president? Why aren't we hearing from the administration? A government shutdown is imminent.
ZELENY: Don, good evening again. Sorry for not being here before. I went back into the White House actually to see if anyone was around. I can tell you the offices that we can interact with, the press secretary offices, they are closed. I am told there is going to be a statement at some point coming.
It could be held up a little bit by what is happening there on the floor if there is indeed something happening here. But, look, we did not expect to hear from the president this evening. I would expect that he is in this building behind me here, Don. We are standing in front of the White House.
Our lights are shining into his windows, essentially. The lights at the front of the White House are indeed not on right now. Usually it's closed by 11:00. We are not allowed in here usually after about 10:30 or so. So we are being allowed in a little bit later than normal.
But, look, this is something that we're going to have to hear from the president on. The president said himself, Don, I was doing some research on earlier shutdowns earlier today. We all remember that 2013 shutdown. When Donald Trump was a private citizen, he told Fox News during an interview then the president will own this shutdown, of course speaking of President Obama.
So certainly the same rules hold true that this president indeed owns the shutdown. Now, of course there will be blame placed across both sides, Democrats and Republicans, but he is the one in charge here. So we are watching to see what he will do tomorrow morning. Will he call another meeting? Will he try and bring people together?
He also wanted to get down to Florida, to Mar-a-Lago. He has a big one-year anniversary celebration, a major fund-raising dinner where big donors are flying in, have already arrived there. As of now, his trip is off. Something would have to dramatically change by tomorrow morning. But, Don, we are not expecting to hear from him. Perhaps a tweet or something, but that would be the extent of it tonight.
Again, not that unusual. I don't remember other presidents on the cusp of a shutdown also coming out to speak to our cameras, but that does not mean, of course, we wouldn't want to hear from him perhaps if he's watching or so. He certainly is the one who has to, you know, has to weigh in at some point on this in a leadership role.
LEMON: The lights are off, but somebody's home. They're just not talking to us. Thank you, Jeff. I appreciate it. Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill now. Phil, I understand there is a good faith effort to try to get something done and that's your reporting.
MATTINGLY: I'm trying to assess what's actually going on in the floor right now which is always a little bit difficult. The senators aren't super forthcoming when they're down there, and the staff actually have their phones on them when they're on the floor. But here's kind of what I've gotten up to this point right now from people directly involved in the process.
The talks, I'm told by several people, are real. We've obviously seen this play out in front on live television. Bipartisan groups of senators getting together, talking about things, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer walking off the floor. At one point, Senator Schumer walked back onto the floor.
What I'm told basically is while the talks were real and while some people considered the talks productive, at this stage, it is too late and there's not enough space to reach any kind of deal to keep the government open before midnight right now. So this is the basic state of play, Don.
Over the entirety of this day, there have not been a lot of at least rigorous talks between the two parties. Senators Schumer and Senator McConnell have spoken by phone at least once. Other than that, there hasn't been a lot of communication between them or their offices. They're obviously all talking right now.
[23:20:00] But I think they've gotten to the point right now where as Brian pointed out, the issues for Democrats haven't just changed. It's not a date change type of issue in terms of how long a short term funding bill would be. They want very specific policy proposals. They want very specific commitments. Those are commitments that Republicans simply aren't willing to make at this point in time, and they certainly aren't willing to make them on the Senate floor in the middle of a vote.
However, it is important to know, the fact that people are getting together in groups and talking, as I noted earlier, nothing sharp in sense like a near death experience. Don, we're about to have a death experience if this (INAUDIBLE) for something in the future. But I do want to point out something else and I think this is really kind of important aspect of all this.
Where the president comes down on this will determine where this ends up going. Where the president agrees that Republicans should go to try and meet Democrats somewhere will determine where this is going. And the conversations between Democrats and the president in the hours or days or however long this goes in the future will determine how this all plays out.
How those are going to happen, we simply don't know at this point. We got a taste of it this afternoon for a short period of time, but obviously a lot more is going to have to happen to resolve. Right now is just a bridge too far between the two parties.
LEMON: Phil, so what determines where all of this goes? Nothing can happen without leadership from the White House. So just one reason, I was wondering where is the president, because Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, they're not going to sign off on something that they're not sure that the president is not going to approve or like.
So that's one reason I'm asking. Where is the president? Why isn't he speaking out about this? Why aren't we going to hear from the White House? But without leadership from there, then none of this means anything, correct?
MATTINGLY: Yes. I think it's really an important point to make. Look, I deal with the lawmakers. I don't deal with the president and his team on a very regular basis.
But I can tell you this. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it plainly for the last two weeks when it comes to the "dreamers", to the DACA issue, there is nothing Republicans are willing to do on Capitol Hill right now until they know exactly what the president is going to sign.
He is the leader of the party. He determines the agenda. He's the one that kind of sets the tone for everything that's happening. And I also think they are very clearly aware that they don't want to get in front of him on anything because what happens if he decides that this is something he doesn't like? Then they will be attacked. Then they could be undercut.
So I think everybody is very careful with how they interact. I will note, I've been told by multiple people, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly have been in regular contact throughout the day, through all the White House discussions with Senate Democrats, with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his team have very much so been in the loop. The contact goes back and forth. The line is very open between the two institutions. But I do think, Don, you make a really key point. The president will determine where Republicans end up in the end.
Republicans are very comfortable with the position they're in right now. They have a House passed bill. That's what Republican leaders in the House and Senate believe should be their position from now and going forward. But if the president moves off that, Republican leaders are likely to follow.
LEMON: Hey, quick question before I go back to Jeff Zeleny about where the White House is on this and specifically the president. So at midnight, is it automatic that the government shuts down if they haven't reached some agreement, or is it still in play until they decide something and they close this vote?
MATTINGLY: Yes. So technically, yes. But I think obviously there's nuance to that, right?
MATTINGLY: First and foremost, it's a weekend. And so I actually think that's giving some lawmakers that I have been talking to a little bit of space, right?
MATTINGLY: The biggest issues are the 850,000-plus federal workers that would be furloughed immediately. Well, they now have a couple days until that would actually happen. Some of the institutions or entities that this would be involved with, they would be closed on the weekend, so they don't have to worry about that as well. But, no, it's not contingent on this vote or when this vote closes.
LEMON: Got it. All right. Stand by. Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, wondering where is the White House on this, where is the president. I understand you have some information for us.
ZELENY: We do indeed, Don. We are getting the first words, the first reactions from the White House to this vote in the Senate. And exactly what Phil was just saying there as you were talking, what is the president going to say about this? That will tell us a lot about the direction where this now goes.
Now, we do just have a tweet moments ago from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. I believe we have that for you now. If not, Don, I'll read it to you. It says this. Democrats can't shut down the booming Trump economy. Are they now so desperate they'll shut down the government instead? Hashtag Schumer shut down.
So, Don, in those very few words there, we are getting an indication at least, an early indication, of the president and the White House's strategy here. Blaming the Democrats. Of course that's not a surprise. This is an echo of an earlier tweet we heard from the president, saying they're trying to shut down the Trump economy. One thing we don't see, though, in the tweet from the press secretary, Don, is any mention of the Republicans who also voted against this plan. The Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham
[23:25:00] and a few others, who also do not believe that this is the way that business should be conducted in Washington here. But we are getting a sense, as Phil was saying, you know, to look for those signs from this president. We are getting a sense at least from his advisers what they're going to do. Go after the Democrats.
But when the sun comes up here in Washington, and I expect it will tomorrow again, what is the strategy here, because they do need to craft some kind of a deal here. So the hashtag Schumer shut down was something that we heard about 12 hours or so ago, and then Senator Schumer came over for a meeting.
That seemed to go fairly well at least by those standards, but obviously nothing came of it. But digging their heels in the sand here, partisanship tonight not surprisingly in Washington, Don.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that, Jeff Zeleny, Phil Mattingly. We will let you go back because you guys need to do your reporting. We appreciate that. If you get something, let us know. We'll put you right back on the air.
I want to get back now to Rebecca Berg, David Rohde, Scott Jennings, and also Brian Fallon. My question, David, honestly, I get it. This is politics. This is Washington. It's fine. Play the blame game. But at this moment when Americans are like, what is going to happen? Is the government going to shut down? I don't know.
Most people are like, they don't really know, it's a weekend and what effect it's going to have. So they're concerned. Don't they want to hear from the president, and don't they want some reassurance that everything is going to be OK instead of, Democrats can shut this down, instead of the blame game? Why?
ROHDE: I think the messaging will grate on people. Is it going to be the Trump shutdown? You know, that hashtag, or the Schumer shutdown. This is an opportunity for the president to just show some leadership, but this is no surprise that he's not getting into the nitty-gritty of a deal. He's never done that.
The tax cut, all these different legislative proposals, the repeal of Obamacare. The White House was never offering any specific solutions. It was sort of dumping it on Congress to figure out the details. So there's no surprise here. Maybe they keep him off camera because, again, this effort to call it the Schumer shutdown.
But I do think as this goes by, as time passes, they'll expect leadership from the president, annd it will become the Trump shutdown. It will be -- tomorrow is the anniversary of his first year being president. LEMON: Rohde, as he said in 2013 when the government was on the verge of being shut down, as he said to Fox News, that people will blame the president. They won't remember who the senate majority leader was, who the House leader was, or whatever congressman or senator. They won't remember that.
But they'll certainly remember who the president is. And that is one of the reasons that I'm saying this, because, yes, as an American, I want to hear from my president, Democrat or Republican. At this point, it doesn't matter if there's an "R" or a "D" in front or behind your name. I want to hear from my president.
ROHDE: You're going to get, you know, a tweet storm, the same rhetoric.
LEMON: I don't want a tweet. I want someone standing there either at the White House, coming out, walking down that red carpet or whatever, and walking up to a podium and saying, listen, I know you're concerned, but don't be. I got this.
ROHDE: But that's not our politics today. Our politics today is listen to my base. I'm going to fight the bad guys.
LEMON: I don't care. You can make this point over and over and over. I cannot make this point enough. I think people at home are frustrated and concerned about this because, listen, we've got 30 minutes, just over 30 minutes left.
People want to hear from their president. I don't think you can say that enough. So, listen, is there any chance, Rebecca, that over the weekend, that there may be some sort of deal, maybe some sort of clear messaging, some sort of clear leadership coming from Washington?
BERG: Absolutely, Don. It's no coincidence that Mick Mulvaney, the budget director for the White House, mentioned today that the weekend does give them some wiggle room. And so Congress works best with deadlines, and they don't see today, as crazy as this sounds, they don't see today as a firm deadline because you wouldn't see the full effects of the shutdown until Monday.
So they really do feel that they have this weekend to get their acts together. That said, as we've discussed throughout the evening, there really is a lot of space between the democratic and the republican position on this. Republicans want more time. They want an extension to discuss the immigration issue, and democrats don't.
Democrats say, we've had enough time. We should reach a deal and get this settled. So, how you're going to find the middle ground between those two points is really the question. I don't know how they answer that question between now and between Monday.
LEMON: Brian Fallon, I want to bring you back in and talk about --is there a chance for a -- I guess there is, for a deal this weekend? And if so, how will that play out? How might that play out?
FALLON: Well, one good sign, Don -- I mean an hour ago we were talking about the idea of the Senate Republicans just bringing up one show vote after another to try to put pressure on red-state Democrats, and you're not seeing that happen. You're seeing this vote being held open while back channel talks continue off the floor. So that at least is a positive sign.
[23:30:00] I think in terms of how it might resolve itself over the weekend, I think there's two paths that the Democrats, for their part, have laid out.
And one is, for the president and the Senate leadership to take up the bipartisan deal on DACA that Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake reached with Dick Durbin last week.
You know, Mitch McConnell won't want to talk about it, but both Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, two Republicans, voted with the Democrats against this continuing resolution tonight to make a point that they want the deal to include the DACA measure as well.
But Mitch McConnell -- I think that measure would pass, and according to a poll today, it was 89-11, the public supports rescuing those 800,000 kids that are in limbo right now.
But Mitch McConnell can't bring it up, if he doesn't get a clear sign -- an all-clear sign from Donald Trump. That's why he is the critical figure here. The thing would pass with Republicans and Democrats alike on the Senate floor.
It would pass with a majority of the members of the House of Representatives, but they need the all-clear sign from Donald Trump. Previously he had said that the terms that he would accept, he spelled them out.
That's what, Durbin and Graham, negotiated to try to satisfy. They did, and then Donald Trump moved the goal post. So Democrats and Republicans on the Hill need to hear what his new metrics are for what kind of DACA deal he will accept.
Is he going to insist, as was rumored, on $20 billion for a border wall? That was the rumor of what he was demanding in the meeting where he rejected the bipartisan deal last week.
If that's what he wants, he should come on television at the stroke of midnight when the government shuts down and make his case for that to the American people.
I think he'll have a hard time making that case because in the campaign, he said that that wall was going to be paid for by the Mexican government. And now he is saying he's shutting the government down because he wants taxpayers to pay $20 billion for that wall.
But if that's his argument, he should come on television and make it. Otherwise, The Democrat's position is clear, take the bird in the hand, the bipartisan deal you already have, or as an alternative, Schumer and the Democrats have said, we will keep the government open for, say, three days or five days. Because if it's really just a matter of getting the legislative language together on this bipartisan deal, that's all it will take. When people talk about three weeks or four weeks, then they're trying to take their foot off the gas pedal. So, that's an entirely different measure and they're right to reject that.
LEMON: Scott Jennings, so, tomorrow will be one year since we were all in Washington and the president was inaugurated. How might he react to this, the one-year anniversary of him being in office and you've got protests all over the country, and the government is shutdown?
JENNINGS: Well, the way to react -- I know, Brian and I, have been sitting here fighting on TV all night. But I do agree with, Brian. The way to react, this weekend would be for Donald Trump to pull everybody together and say, OK, I'm in for a year.
You guys are ruining my anniversary weekend. We're not walking out of the Oval here until we have a deal. Now the Democrats have said the only thing they'll accept is something on DACA for the DREAMers.
So if the president were to pull everybody in, clearly state his position, give the Republicans time to make sure whatever his position is can pass in both chambers, that would be a big win. So that would sort of validate the tactics tonight.
They've kept him off television tonight. The Congress is going to shutdown the government. He steps in tomorrow morning, say, and pulls everybody together.
They forge a deal that gives everybody what they want, including something on immigration that he could plausibly say, these guys couldn't get their act together until Donald Trump pulled everybody into the Oval.
That would be a way the White House could play it, and given where the Congressional approval is and given where the president is -- I know he's not in great shape, but he's in better shape than Congress. That would be a way to play this to the president's political advantage.
LEMON: Rebecca, I mean, good question, Scott, alluded to where everyone gets something. What about the -- I will sign anything, or this needs to be a bill of love and I'm willing to take the heat? What happened to that?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, here's the thing I think that, Scott, gets a little bit wrong. While the president would look good politically in a situation where he comes up to Capitol Hill and brings everyone together, and cuts a deal, the fact is that even though he has represented himself in this presidency as a deal maker and as a candidate, as a deal maker, he hasn't really cut those kinds of deals when it's come down to it.
He really has played to the base. He's tried to energy his base, and the major legislation he's passed, you look at tax reform, it passed with Republican votes, not with Democrats. And so this is an opportunity for the president to establish himself as a deal maker.
But what we saw, for example, when Chuck Schumer went down to the White House and there weren't going to be any Republicans in the room, was that Republicans got nervous because they didn't trust the president to negotiate first of all in good faith, but second of all in a way that would be advantageous to them. So there is -- there is a little bit of a challenge there when it comes to Donald Trump and his negotiating.
LEMON: All right, thanks everyone. Thanks, David, Rebecca, Scott, Brian, I appreciate it. We're going to check back with you as all of this continues to unfold. We're going to be live here for the duration. So we don't know how long we're going to be live, but as long as it takes, we'll be here for you.
[23:35:00] Now, I want to bring in our CNN presidential historian, Timothy Naftali. Tim, good evening to you. You're a historian. AS we look back -- we're going to look back in history, and how is this going to play?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think a lot of it will depend on whether the American people believe that both sides are willing to compromise. One of the things that surprised me today is that Senator Schumer did not leak some contents, something from his conversation with the president.
One of the things that we're facing now is an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, and my concern is it becomes a game of chicken. And, you know, the government may shutdown tonight, but the conversation doesn't end.
It's going to be tomorrow and the day after, and the day after. How are you going to give enough to both sides so they save face because the worst thing that can happen for the country is that both sides decide that they can wait it out, that somehow this is going to turn in their favor.
And then we all lose because neither side will give in, because they know if they give in, they've lost. So really the key moments, I believe, are coming up in the next couple of days.
And one would hope that now both sides are sending messages -- I would hope more public messages than they are -- that they're willing to compromise. Make clear what your -- what your bottom line is.
Something for DACA -- you know, DACA doesn't have to be totally solved. What you want to avoid are the deportations starting in March. I mean, part of this whole issue is that you have this hard deadline in March, and it will affect 800,000 people.
And frankly, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats -- now, I believe the moral high ground belongs to those who would support DACA. But neither party would actually be helped politically by the scenes of those people being deported.
And we can anticipate that happening in March and April. So couldn't there be some kind of agreement that would either kick the DACA can for a year and say, look, let's make this an issue for the election in 2018.
But assure those 800,000 people that they won't be deported in March and April. I mean that's a possible deal that would allow both sides to save face. But I'm not hearing anything, and what concerns me now is that this is going to turn into an eyeball-to-eyeball game of chicken.
And when would that end? How would it end? Would Donald Trump, for example, be willing to admit he was wrong? He's never been willing to do that up to now. Would he be willing to do it in the next couple of days? I think that's unlikely.
So I think the Democrats have to start thinking ahead about the game they're going to play. I'm talking about a good game to get to, yes, with Donald Trump.
Maybe this is the time for the bipartisan group to come together, the Dems and the Republicans, and say, listen, we want an agreement.
This is what we're willing to negotiate on, actually revise their agreement and say, we've got some -- we can move this around a little bit, Mr. President, but talk to us. Put the pressure on President Trump to speak tonight or tomorrow.
LEMON: Do people remember, Timothy, anything from a shutdown? I remember covering 2013. I remember being up in the wee hours, all of that. But once we get past all of that, do people remember anything other than who the president is or was at the time?
NAFTALI: Well, you know, historians want people to remember everything, but they don't. Don, here's the key. Who got what they wanted? That's what people remember. The 2013 was all about gutting ACA, Obamacare.
The Republicans didn't get what they wanted, but they put us through a shutdown. The public says, Republicans did that for nothing. In 1995-'96, what did the Republicans want? They wanted to limit President Clinton's ability to make budgetary policy.
They didn't get what they wanted. They lost. So I believe that 2018 will all depend on whether -- which side gets what it wants. If DACA is not guaranteed as a result of the shutdown, the Democrats will look like the losers.
And despite the fact they have the moral high ground, politically they'll be hurt. If the Republicans give in on DACA and accept the bipartisan agreement that was floating around and the president dropped last week, then the president will look like the loser.
So I think it depends on how this plays out. I don't think you know who will win or lose the blame game until we know how this thing ends. We know the shutdown will end. It's how it ends that matters.
LEMON: OK. So, Tim, as we look -- we're looking now at the Senate floor and they're holding this vote open for a number of reasons. Brian, is saying that Mitch McConnell needs to get his act together to figure out what he's going to bring up.
Some of the reporting from, Phil Mattingly, is that they're trying to figure out some sort of way maybe to make a deal. But at midnight, it kicks in.
[23:40:00] Our reporting is that at midnight, it kicks in. The government is officially shut down. What happens after that, who knows? But we've seen this back and forth a number of times.
You and I have been sitting here and I've been sitting here with a lot of our panelists late into the evening for a number of different votes that have come down to the wire.
How do you think over the last couple of years -- and it seems like it has been more than usual, not that this doesn't happened or hasn't happened before. How is the president -- how has he fared with this or going to fare? Can you tell from this point?
NAFTALI: No, because -- well, it will depend on whether the American people think the president was reasonable and his opponents were not. And, you know, from the polling today, it's clear that the public's going to blame everybody.
But, you know, we've been talking about how the government shutdown doesn't really matter because it's happening on a weekend. I was in the government when we nearly shutdown, and it actually has an immediate effect.
Many government employees are furloughed. It means they don't work anymore, so they don't get paid even though they wouldn't have come to work on Saturday and Sunday, they're not going to be paid for Saturday and Sunday.
So there's an immediate effect on the payment of civil servants. And, you know, they're the backbone of our government, and they will be affected. I don't know how the military itself is affected, but I do know that people will be immediately furloughed.
So the fact that they're not coming to work doesn't mean it's not going to affect their paychecks. So this is a real thing that's happening, and it's not the sign of a healthy country, frankly.
LEMON: Yes. All right, thank you, Timothy Naftali. We appreciate it. So, listen, you're looking at live pictures now of senators negotiating on the Senate floor. They voted at 10:00 p.m. They started that vote at 10:00 p.m. on this looming government shutdown.
They voted, but they're still holding -- it appears everyone has voted, and they are holding the vote open until who knows, and for what reasons we're not exactly sure. It has been said that they want to keep it open because Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to bring up next.
And others have said they're trying to keep it open so they can work out a deal or bring up a deal. And than there's reporting there's not enough time to do it. But we do know at midnight it automatically kicks in that the government is shutdown.
But that doesn't mean that they won't continue to work to do something. You can see a number of the key players there in the middle of the floor, caucusing if you will with each other, negotiating with each other.
I think is that the back of Mitch McConnell's head that I see right now. It's a small screen in the studio here. Mitch McConnell, has a vote -- I don't know, has Schumer voted? Some folks have not voted.
And John McCain is out of town, has not voted. He's out of town obviously recovering from brain cancer. But there you see what's happening, the government at work into the midnight hour, almost literally at this point.
We've got less than 20 minutes until there's an official government shutdown. There you go, 17 minutes until there's an official government shutdown. We have still not officially heard from the president.
All we've gotten was one tweet from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Sarah Sanders just moments ago saying that this is -- Democrats can't shut down the booming Trump economy.
Are they now so desperate that they'll shutdown the government instead? No reassurance from the president to the American people as to what the game plan is, how they're going to make this work, how they're going to try to get the government back open in short order if it indeed shuts down, which it looks like it is imminent now, is going to happen at midnight.
So here we are. Again, this is your American government at work. Let's discuss this now with CNN political commentators, Keith Boykin, Alice Stewart, and legal commentator, Ken Cuccinelli.
Thank you for joining us as we look at these pictures that are on the Senate floor, and we look at what's going on. Alice, even if they do come up with something, can they get it enacted within the next 15 minutes to avoid an official shutdown?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATORS: Sure. Obviously, don, it depends on exactly what it is. I've talked with a few Senate offices, and there is talk that they are considering possibly introducing a measure that would keep things open for three to five days to give them a few more days to try and work out a deal.
And that would be the best option at this late hour in terms of trying to figure out a good fix. And the reality is, look, we're hearing from both sides, Republicans and Democrats want to have a fix. They don't want to shutdown the government.
They do want to protect DREAMers. They do want to provide provisions for those people. But it's a matter of making sure that both sides get what they want, but they also have to compromise. And I think that is key.
Both sides, so far, have really dug in their heels and not really worked across the aisle to compromise and give and take, and that's the problem.
[23:45:05] And another thing that also the CNN polling today shows that a majority of people across this country, the priority number one is to fund the government, keep the government open.
And then far behind that is protecting DREAMers. And I've talked to a lot of folks across the Heartland, and they look at this. They look at what's going on in Washington right now.
And the Democrats' efforts really to shut down the government in exchange for fighting for DACA, as they're more concerned about protecting DREAMers and these immigrants than they are about protecting people in our military, children's health insurance, farmers and teachers across the country. And that's not really sitting well with voters across the country...
LEMON: Let me jump in here, Alice, because I want to get some breaking news in here, some new information that we have. This is according to, Brian Fallon. Brian Fallon, said at this point it's guaranteed shutdown of some duration because the House would need to also pass a new deal the Senate struck.
So it can't happen in only 20 minutes. So we are guaranteed a government shutdown in, what, 14 minutes up on the screen, also some new information that we have here according to our folks in Washington.
Democrats proposed a C.R. that would expire on January 29th, which is the day before the State of the Union. And, Ken Cuccinelli, this question is for you.
Two sources say Democrats have pitched a new continuing resolution that would expire on January 29th, the day before the president's State of the Union Address. Republicans are not willing to consider that, one source says, but conversations are still ongoing. Ken, they're trying, but it's not enough.
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, it's interesting the date they pick. I think -- I assume they picked that date because they think it puts pressure on the president.
I think if the Republicans agreed to that date and we just saw flat funding as we've seen up to this point, I'm not sure the Democrats would really appreciate it when he spent the whole state Of the Union with the kind of attention he's going to get blasting them over this.
Although the House Democrats probably wouldn't take much of a beating, the Senate Democrats would. So I don't even know if that's good tactics. But the one absolute in this debate is a non-budget item, is the
Democrat senators who refuse to vote for a budget unless DACA is in there, and DACA is not a budget item.
It does not have to be in the budget. They're trying to use the budget as the lever, and they can do that. That's one of the tactics senators can use.
But when a non-budget item is the ultimate holdup here, I don't think you can say that the fact that people won't compromise on immigration at the moment, in the middle of the budget discussion, is going to lead to blame on those people.
LEMON: It may be a non-budget item, but it's something very important to most people, and most Americans agree that something should be done about this.
CUCCINELLI: Everyone who's spoken to this point has been wrong about the polls. The polls say -- you know, I heard even, Alice -- my friend, Alice Stewart, there say, you know, Republicans want to do this.
No, Republicans don't want to do this. But they're willing to compromise on it. See, and that's one of the problems with even saying you're willing to do it is because that becomes the new floor. It's a negotiating tactic on the other side.
And so the Democrats have stated an absolute. The Republicans have not stated an absolute, though the president has for several months now given his four points that he would be willing to -- including the DACA compromise, that he'd be willing to accept. But he was never doing that in the context of the budget.
And now it's been wrapped into the budget, and I think that is a much more difficult sell in the blame game. And just one other point, in 2013, you're looking at the only political damage to Republicans of that shutdown as I lost the 2013 governor's race in Virginia because Republicans were blamed in the short term.
CUCCINELLI: But they won nine Senate seats the following year -- Nine Senate seats the following year.
LEMON: You're only talking about the blame game, and I don't think people at home really care that much about the blame game at this point.
STEWART: Hey, Don.
LEMON: People don't really give a crap about this.
CUCCINELLI: Don, that's all I am hearing here. LEMON: People are looking at the thing saying, we've got 11 minutes, and our government's going to shutdown. What is going on? Why can't Washington get their act together?
I think both Democrats and Republicans, and the president, why am I not hearing from my president? Why don't I have reassurance from my president? I think, you know, we get so bogged down in this, well, this person is to blame for this.
What do we need to do as Americans to fix this, I think, is the most important point. And as I'm here on my high horse, I'll get off my soapbox in just a minute. Mitch McConnell -- a whole bunch of Republicans are right over -- if you look over -- well, it was there over my head.
A whole lot of Republicans are surrounding Mitch McConnell. I think it's at the left of your screen now, and talking to him. And I can only imagine that they're scrambling to try to figure something out.
[23:50:00] And at this point, they're not really as concerned as we are and as the folks here who are talking about, I'm sure on every cable channel. Who is going to be to blame? And this person is going to be blamed. They're not going to blame the president.
Yes, they're going to blame the president. They're going to blame Democrats, and they're going to blame Republicans. And then some folks -- and then the Republicans are going to blame the media.
And then the Democrats are going to blame the Republicans again and blame the White House. OK, fine. So then what do they need to do now, and how do we move forward from here? That's what I need to know. Keith Boykin, can you help me out?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Don, I don't think at this point there's absolutely nothing that can be done to avoid a government shutdown. Brian Fallon, is correct, except for one thing.
That is if the Senate can in the next ten minutes, which is highly unlikely, reverse course and pass exactly the same bill that the House passed last night. That's not going to happen, which means the government will be shutdown.
It might be just for 24 hours. It might be 72 hours. It might be a week. We don't know exactly how long. And, yes, there is a tendency on the part of both parties to sort of play the blame game, and I don't think that's necessarily helpful.
At the same time, I think I have to say something in recent response to what has been said from, Ken, earlier, a moment ago. And part of it is you have to look at the fact that we have Republicans and Democrats who voted against this bill, who are voting against this bill currently. I mean, Lindsey Graham voted against this.
LEMON: Jeff flake, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Rand Paul.
(CROSSTALK) BOYKIN: Exactly.
LEMON: I mean on the Democratic side, those who voted yes were Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, Doug Jones, Joe Manchin, and Claire McCaskill. Carry on.
BOYKIN: Exactly. The point being that this is not...
LEMON: There's Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer on your screen.
BOYKIN: Exactly. This is not some sort of Democratic conspiracy, they could borrow to shutdown the government. Democrats have historically wanted to fund and keep the government operating.
It's been traditionally the Democrats who have done that in the face of opposition from Republicans like Ted Cruz and Newt Gingrich in the past who have tried to shutdown the government.
So what we have going on right now is a situation where we have a president who just said last May, that we need a good government shutdown. He said that on Twitter just last May.
A president who said just seven years ago, that if there is a shutdown, that the people don't care about whether it's the Republicans or Democrats in Congress. They look to the president for leadership. We have a president who sold himself as being this master negotiator.
LEMON: I got it. Listen, I'm going to say the same thing. Again, we keep talking about the blame game. But here is what -- this is why I keep wanting to know what's going to happen, who's going to reassure the American people, because we are looking -- there's the Senate floor.
They are negotiating right as we speak there. You see it before your very eyes. Let me ask you about this. This is from Seth Molton, who is a congressman. He says, I just -- I was just stopped by -- he tweeted this.
I was just stopped by an older gentleman collecting our office trash. Excuse me, sir. Did they pass the vote? No, they did not. I'm sorry, sir, I said. Then I added, stop working by midnight.
He said anxiously, so I need to hurry to finish? That's what people are concerned about. This is why people need to hear from the President of the United States.
This is why people need to know how do we move forward. What is going on. Not that just Washington is chaotic. Maybe it is chaotic, but what are you doing for us right now? How are you keeping us straight? That's what people want to know.
CUCCINELLI: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Go ahead. CUCCINELLI: Don, you know, there's a ten-year problem here. In ten years -- I think it's been ten years since the Senate, under either Republicans or Democrats, has actually passed a budget through the ordinary process.
And I know we're focused on tonight because midnight is a shutdown. It seems likely to happen now. But this has been going on for ten years in the Senate, and this is how they want to operate.
LEMON: You're making my point.
CUCCINELLI: That may seem counterintuitive right now.
LEMON: You're making my point.
CUCCINELLI: But Harry Reid wanted to operate this way, and Mitch McConnell wants to operate this way. They want to do this. They want to have a distressed final moment where they can jam through ugly bills that we don't have time to review or critique beforehand to generate political support or opposition. They want to govern this way in the Senate. This is a Senate problem.
BOYKIN: Can I push back on this and make a metaphor about this? This is really -- I'm not speaking as a Democrat or a Republican. I'm speaking as an American. This is not a problem about, Mitch McConnell, so much or even a problem about, Harry Reid.
It's a problem about us. We, the American people, we elect these people, and we continue to reelect these people even when they fail to serve our needs. So, yes, it's easy to blame Washington for the dysfunction that's going on here.
But Washington is a representation of who we are as a people. And if we allow this to continue, it's because we as Americans are a dysfunctional people. Yes, we are responsible.
We are the citizens in control of the government, and if we don't exercise control, we can't keep blaming other people in Washington and not taking responsibility to vote those people out of power who do not serve our needs.
[23:55:06] LEMON: Ken, I think he is talking to you.
CUCCINELLI: Yes, I agree with that point. But I would say some of us and my role as the head of Senate Conservative Fund, we've tried to take some of these people out, and we're bipartisan about it.
We've tried to take Republicans out who do this and Democrats. And look, until we change the leadership, and I'll just focus on the Republican side, it's true that the Democrats as well, you're not going to see these sorts of problems, especially in the Senate, change.
This is a problem with how they operate in the U.S. Senate. And, Don, people don't vote on process issues. They just don't. And it's true that ultimately the voters are responsible for whom they elect. But, you know, when you've got -- go all the way back to '06. People
voted on the Iraq war. They voted on policy issues. They don't vote on process that leads to this kind of train wreck. I will tell you, though, I'll say it again. People like Mitch McConnell want the train wreck.
LEMON: OK, guys. I need you to stand by.
CUCCINELLI: But that's how they want to budget.
LEMON: All right, I need you to stand by because some official business in here and not so much punditry. Listen, there you have it, on the Senate floor it's playing out. This vote started at 10:00 p.m. Eastern when we came on the air.
It is also midnight, and midnight is the deadline. So we've got about almost three minutes. Let's just say three minutes until the government officially shuts down. The vote is still open. They've not closed the vote.
The gavel has not dropped, and you can see them up there in the top left of your screen still negotiating, still negotiating, trying to figure out what's going on. The big question is the key player in all of this is the President of the United States.
No matter what they do there on the floor, they'll come up with something. But the president has to approve of what they're going to do. He has to sign whatever legislation they're going to put before him, so he matters the most.
Let's bring in our key players here. Let's bring in Jeff Zeleny, our White House correspondent and also, Phil Mattingly, senior congressional correspondent. Jeff, I understand you have some sort of official statement from the White House. What do you have for me?
ZELENY: We do know, Don -- we do have the first official statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about the impending shutdown here.
As you can see, we're just below three minutes here, and this is as we're watching these dramatic developments on the Senate floor but, of course, will not lead to any vote before midnight. I will read the statement to you right now from, Sarah Sanders, Don.
It says this, Senate Democrats own the Schumer shutdown. Tonight they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans.
She goes on to say, we will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. She goes on to say, this is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.
When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders, we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer shutdown, the president and his administration will fight for and protect the American people.
Well, Don, we got the answer that we've been waiting for here. What was the posture the White House is going to take. They're swinging, they are coming out fighting, blaming Democrats entirely for this.
Let's unpack this a little bit. It says we will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants. That of course means the DACA legislation which the president supports, while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.
So that seems to me that they do not want to talk about immigration or DREAMers until the government is reopened in some way. So, Don, of course all of this is coming as we are watching that group of legislators on the Senate floor right there. Important to point out who they are.
We see Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, both Republicans standing in a group of Democrats. Chuck Schumer is sitting down there in that group. Of course he is the one who was at the White House earlier today with the president.
He is the one who was trying to broker a deal, and there was some progress that was made until that was derailed here. So as the clock almost strikes midnight, Don, on the one-year anniversary of President Trump's time in office, they're at a stalemate here.
And statement from the White House -- an incendiary statement blaming Democrats only, not mentioning that, Lindsey Graham, voted against this, not mentioning that other Republicans voted against this, certainly shows this stalemate may continue for a while.
Cooler heads may prevail in the morning, sometimes that's how it happens, Don, but there's no question here the White House blaming Democrats. At some point they will have to get out of this stalemate. Right now, there's no pathway for how to do that, Don.
LEMON: All right, Jeff Zeleny, at the White House -- from the White House lawn. Jeff, I want you to stand by.
LEMON: We're going to get to our other players in just moments. But I think it's important to let this play out. Here we go, there are ten seconds left officially until the top of the hour until there is an official government shutdown. Your lawmakers now still working to try to come up with something, but obviously that will be too late.