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Senators scramble back to DC to deal with standoff

The end-of-the-year chaos ...

Posted: Dec 22, 2018 12:13 PM
Updated: Dec 22, 2018 12:13 PM

The end-of-the-year chaos consuming the Capitol over a possible government shutdown was captured fittingly Friday when senators who had been abruptly called for a meeting with the President to try to end the standoff found they couldn't get into the White House.

In all the haste, no one had told the Secret Service they were coming.

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"Things are so chaotic at the White House that some Republican senators can't get in because Secret Service didn't even have time to clear them (or the staff who is driving them there!)," a source who asked not to be identified told CNN.

Most senators had left town for the Christmas recess Wednesday after they passed -- almost unanimously -- a short-term spending bill to keep the government running. So when President Donald Trump reversed course Thursday and said he would not sign the bill unless it had $5 billion to build a border wall, it left senators scrambling to catch flights and trains back to DC for a possible vote Friday.

But getting back might not be easy -- or even doable -- for some, as one of the busiest travel days combined with bad storms across much of the country led to the arrivals board at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport glowing red with delays.

One person who did get back: Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, who tweeted that he had flown all the way home to Hawaii, had a "17-minute visit with the fam" and then flown back to Washington, arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport very early Friday morning.

"She gave me some clean underwear and a T-shirt," Schatz said of his wife. "And was able to hug the kids and then turn right around."

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told CNN he had landed in his home state at 5 p.m. Thursday and then turned around to catch a 5:45 a.m. flight Friday to make it back. He didn't get to DC in time to attend the White House meeting, though.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from relatively nearby Delaware, took the train home Thursday night, had dinner with his family and informed them he'd have to return in the morning.

Defeated Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri noted it's her second "last day" in the Senate and she feels like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day." She flew back from St. Louis but said she doesn't plan to stick around if there's an extended shutdown.

"I'm going to leave at some point whether they're done or not," she said. "If they're going to shut down the government, I'll leave it to them to figure out how to find the 60 votes to get it open."

At issue is whether the House-passed bill with extra border wall money could pass the Senate, where at least nine Democrats would have to join with all Republicans to get the 60 votes it would need, something that is highly unlikely even in the season of miracles.

One Democratic senator threw up his hands and shrugged.

"I have no freaking clue," said the senator, who asked not to be identified, about what might happen next, summing up the collective view from the Senate about the unexpected end-of-session standoff.

Others who don't know what lies ahead are the Secret Service personnel at the White House, who had to delicately deal with senators and their staffs, who they didn't expect to show up at their checkpoints.

They are employees of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency at the center of the battle over the border wall money. If the department closes, they are considered "essential" and would have to work without pay until the issue is resolved.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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