Countdown to government shutdown has Capitol Hill scrambling

Government shutdown

CAPITOL HILL -- The countdown to a possible shutdown of the government is on. The shutdown could happen unless Democrats and Republicans can reach an agreement on spending ahead of the Friday deadline.

Lawmakers warmed up for the shutdown blame game on Thursday as high-level talks over a DACA deal stalled.

"Who is running this Republican Party? Who is making decisions?" Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois asked.

"The Democrats, if they are going to shutdown the government, they can do that," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn. 

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she didn't know if the deal is going anywhere. "I haven't seen any evidence of anything," she said. 

Most congressional leaders agree that so-called "Dreamers" should be allowed to apply for legal status.

"I think we could solve it in 30 minutes if people wanted to," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. 

But some conservatives, including those in the White House, want big concessions in exchange.

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As immigrants protest from coast to coast, Democrats said that without a deal, they will vote against a bill to fund the government past midnight Saturday.

"Frankly, a lot of the current mess is a mess of the president's making," said Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. 

Some Republicans agree. They fumed Thursday when he knocked their spending bill in a tweet -- even though the White House supports it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan -- once again -- played clean-up.  

"The president likes to do things in an unconventional way, and he does it with his phone," Ryan said. But Ryan said he knows where Mr. Trump stands: "He fully supports passing this legislation. I just talked to him about an hour and a half ago."

Federal agencies are now preparing for what would be the first shutdown since 2013. "We're ready if that's what happens. We hope not," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

TSA agents and air traffic controllers would remain on duty. But many government employees, including some civilian defense workers, would be furloughed and their pay would be up in the air.

"The group that loses big are the military, and we're never letting our military lose at any point," Mr. Trump said Thursday

The House is slated to vote on the funding bill Thursday. GOP leaders insist they have the votes to pass it. But even if they're right, Democrats can block it in the Senate. If there is a way to head off this shutdown, no one's revealed it yet.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.