HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ Negotiations Resume After Two Failed Senate Votes to Reopen the Government
Negotiations Resume After Two Failed Senate Votes to Reopen the Government

On January 24, the U.S. Senate held votes for the first time since the partial government shutdown began. The votes focused on two key measures aimed at reopening government departments. Both measures failed to reach the needed 60 votes to pass. The Senate voted 50-47 on the Republican measure that included the $5.7 billion in border wall funding. The Senate then voted 52-44 on the Democratic proposal to re-open government operation through February 8, which provided $14 billion on disaster relief funding but no border wall funding. Concerns among some Senators are growing as the government shutdown enters its sixth week, and with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) finally allowing Senate action, it appears that negotiations to end the shutdown have finally started in earnest. Negotiations are expected to continue through the weekend. Reports now indicate that the congressional leaders and the White House are nearing terms to reopen the government for a period of up to three weeks.  While details have yet to be publicly released, the administration is expected to make an announcement on Friday.

The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22, 2018 when funding for nine government departments overseeing, among other agencies, the EPA, FDA, Indian Health Service, Housing, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Homeland Security ran out. Most of the staff of these agencies are on unpaid furlough, while some staff deemed “essential employees” are working without pay. The NIH, CDC and most health agencies, apart from the FDA, are unaffected by the shutdown because the health spending bill enacted in late October 2018 guaranteed their FY2019 budgets. The EPA has suspended inspections of chemical factories, power plants and water treatment operations. The shutdown threatens to significantly impact the Indian Health Service as tribal governments are now cutting some services to ensure that health clinics on Indian reservations remain open.

Last Reviewed: January 2019