WASHINGTON — Senators failed Sunday to reach an agreement to end the government shutdown, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed Monday morning even as the outlines of a potential compromise came into focus.
For much of the day, feverish work by a bipartisan group of senators offered a reason for cautious optimism that a deal could be reached soon. By Sunday night, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, moved to delay until noon Monday a procedural vote on a temporary spending bill — a signal that talks were progressing.
In a gesture to lawmakers seeking assurances that the Senate will address the fate of hundreds of thousands of young unauthorized immigrants, McConnell said he intended to move ahead with immigration legislation next month if the issue had not been resolved by then.
But the deep divisions between the parties were evident as senators remained unable to reach a compromise even as the crisis was poised to deepen with the beginning of the workweek.
Senate Democrats gave no immediate sign that they would get on board with the temporary spending bill, leaving open the possibility of another failed vote Monday that could further deepen the partisan divide three days into the shutdown. Any deal would most likely need the support of around a dozen Senate Democrats, since the chamber’s procedural rules require 60 votes.
“We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward that would be acceptable for both sides,” the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, said after McConnell’s remarks.
The best hope for a breakthrough appeared to reside with the group of about 20 senators from both parties who met throughout the weekend to try to hammer out a compromise to present to McConnell and Schumer.
The group was discussing a plan in which the government would stay open through early February, to be coupled with a promise that the Senate would tackle the issue of immigration in the coming weeks.
A major lingering question was how a compromise might pave the way for passage of legislation to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers. Their status is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump moved last year to end an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that shields them from deportation.