The Latest: First Lady Heads To Mar-a-Lago Without President

Dec 21, 2018, 2:31 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:16 pm
The U.S. Capitol is reflected in the Capitol Reflecting Pool, on December 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on efforts to avoid a government shutdown (all times local):

3 p.m.

The threat of a partial government shutdown may be keeping President Donald Trump at the White House, but his wife has left the building.

Stephanie Grisham, the spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, says it’s the family’s longtime tradition to spend Christmas at their waterfront Mar-a-Lago estate. Grisham says the first lady didn’t change her plans to travel to Florida on Friday with their son, 12-year-old Barron, during his winter break from school.

The president had planned to join his wife and son. But the White House said Trump would stay in Washington if parts of the government are forced to shut down at midnight Friday.

Trump and congressional leaders are in a stalemate over his demand for $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.


2:45 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is making the rounds on Capitol Hill ahead of a midnight deadline to avert a partial government shutdown.

Pence, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer before heading across the Capitol to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Schumer reminded them that any proposal with wall funding will not pass the Senate, a spokesman for the senator said. Schumer also said two proposals that Democrats offered Trump last week remain on the table. A third offer is the package the Senate approved this week. All three continue funding for border security at current levels, $1.3 billion, without wall funds.

The spokesman for Schumer was not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting.

Parts of the government will shut down late Friday without a deal.

— Lisa Mascaro


2:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at the Capitol in case he is needed to break a tie on a procedural measure to avert a partial government shutdown.

The Senate has been stuck in a holding pattern as senators slowly return to the Capitol from out of town.

A Senate vote began about 12:30 p.m. Eastern time and was still open more than three hours later, with a partial tally of 46 against and 44 in favor. The measure would allow the Senate to take up a House-passed bill that would pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall and avert a partial shutdown at midnight.

Two senators, Republican Jim Risch of Idaho and Democrat Jon Tester of Montana, flew in on the same plane and voted on opposite sides — Risch in favor, Tester against.


1:10 p.m.

It’s the “Senate Cranky Coalition.”

That’s according to a campaign-style button Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showed reporters Friday as a federal shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall loomed.

McConnell was exiting the Senate chamber flocked by reporters with questions about the standoff.

The usually stone-faced McConnell paused. He asked an aide for the button.

“This is the largest part of my conference right now,” he chuckled, showing the cartoon-style moose and the slogan.

He said it’s “the unanimous position of the Senate Republican conference at the moment.”

Senators were recalled back to Washington to vote on a package that includes Trump’s border wall money, but it was expected to fail ahead of Friday’s deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown


12:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the government is “totally prepared for a very long shutdown” as he digs in his heels over border wall money and tries to lay the blame on Democrats.

Trump just last week said that he’d “own” the partial government shutdown that will begin Friday at midnight if a deal isn’t reached.

Trump has now changed his tune, saying at a bill signing Friday that it’s “totally up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown.”

Trump, who was supposed to leave Washington on Friday to spend the holiday in Florida, says he thinks the chances “are probably very good” that a shutdown will happen.

He adds: “I hope we won’t. But we’re totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”


10:45 a.m.

The Senate has begun a procedural vote to take up a House-passed bill that would pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall and avert a partial government shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged approval of the bill, which includes $5.7 billion Trump wants for the southern border with Mexico.

McConnell says the bill is neither “radical” nor difficult to explain. Instead he said it addresses a crisis at the border that includes illegal drug smuggling and increased apprehensions of people trying to cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico.

McConnell, who met with Trump Friday at the White House, said in a Senate speech that “this legislation would be quite uncontroversial in a more normal political moment.”

He blamed “far-left” Democrats for opposing the spending package approved by House Republicans and supported by Trump.


9:50 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is resisting President Donald Trump’s call to change Senate rules in order to pass a spending bill that would pay for Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

Trump says McConnell should seek a rule change that lowers the threshold for ending Senate debate on legislation from 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to 51. A simple majority is currently used for judicial and executive nominations but does not apply to most legislation.

Trump tweets that McConnell should “use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!”

McConnell has previously resisted Trump’s calls for a rule change, and a spokesman is reiterating McConnell’s opposition.

GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander and Orrin Hatch also say they oppose the rules change.


8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with Republican senators as a midnight deadline approaches to avoid a partial government shutdown.

Among the senators who have gone to the White House are Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The goal is to try to resolve a standoff that threatens to shut down about 25 percent of the government.

Trump has tweeted that a government closure could drag on “for a very long time” and he’s trying to blame congressional Democrats if no deal is reached on his demand for $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico.


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The Latest: First Lady Heads To Mar-a-Lago Without President