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Government shutdown drama returns to the Senate in rare Saturday session

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, pauses while speaking during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2014. (Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republicans for threatening another possible government shutdown at the end of Saturday, even though Republicans are expected to agree to a vote in the next few hours to extend funding into next week.

"I remind everyone at 12:00 midnight — 12:00 a.m. — the United States government tonight runs out of money," Reid said on the Senate floor Saturday. "We tried to get an agreement last night to extend government funding for a few extra days while we worked to pass the long-term bill, but Republicans wouldn't let us do that."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, pauses while speaking during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2014. (Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republicans for forcing the Senate to return on a Saturday in the face of another possible government shutdown. (Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Reid was one of several senators from both parties who was angry at having to return for a rare Saturday meeting, after Republicans refused to advance either a short- or long-term funding bill. Republicans like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have been opposed to the funding bills unless they can get a vote to defund President Barack Obama's executive action immigration.

Despite their opposition, a senior Republican aide told TheBlaze that the GOP would relent and allow a vote on a short-term bill today, avoiding a government shutdown and giving the Senate more time to figure out the longer-term bill.

The House passed that short-term extension on Friday — it would keep the government funded until next Wednesday. That House vote led senators to expect they'd have the weekend off.

But that fell apart when Sen. Lee said he objected to a time agreement that would see a vote on the huge spending bill on Monday, since it didn't include a vote to defund Obama's immigration move. Lee also said he saw no reason why the Senate should have the weekend off with big issues like spending and immigration looming.

When the Senate reconvened on Saturday at noon, it started a series of procedural votes aimed at advancing several Obama administration nominees, as Republicans and Democrats continued negotiating on the government funding bills.

There were no outward signs that those negotiations would be easy. As of Saturday afternoon, Cruz was still intent on getting some kind of vote in the Senate on defunding Obama's immigration move. Late Friday, Cruz challenged the constitutionality of the big spending bill for failing to stop what he said was Obama's unlawful action on immigration.

Cruz's challenge was seen as a way to keep up pressure for a vote on immigration. Cruz's communications director, Amanda Carpenter, said the Senate was already holding so many nomination votes on Saturday, that they should just hold a vote on immigration while the Senate was gathered.

Carpenter had another tweet for the several Republican senators who were complaining about the events that forced the Senate back to work on Saturday:

One last thing…
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