Senators failed to pass two competing bills to end the government shutdown on Thursday, including one that would have temporarily reopened the government without border wall funding.
House Democrats had already passed their bill that would have temporarily funded the government through February 8. The bill was intended to reopen the government while leaving time to negotiate border security. Yet that bill failed to pass the Senate by a 52-44 vote.
The partial government shutdown began over a dispute about border wall funding on December 22. It has thus far lasted 34 days as of Thursday.
Senate Republicans were instead hoping to pass a bill that would exchange border wall funding for protecting dreamers and immigration within a Temporary Protected Status (TPS). President Donald Trump inspired that compromise during a speech on January 19.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then scheduled the competing bills to come up for a vote.
“We need to end this shutdown now. There’s only one way to do it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said from the floor on Thursday before the vote.
“The Senate will have the chance to vote on a bill that reopens the government. Now Leader McConnell says President Trump’s bill is the only way to reopen the government — bull. He claims our bill won’t pass because the president won’t sign it. Has he ever heard of a veto override?”
Even before the votes on Thursday, the Senate was unlikely to pass either bill, since they each needed 60 votes — and neither side appeared to have that.
Trump had also refused to sign any spending bills that didn’t include $5.7 billion for the border security wall. Democratic leaders have said they’re unwilling to negotiate on the border wall until the shutdown is over.
“The bill that President Trump put together can’t pass the House and can’t pass the Senate,” Schumer said. “So it has no chance of passing. So for Leader McConnell to say that the only bill that has a chance to reopen the government is President Trump’s bill, where he puts in a $5.7 billion wall, undoes many of the asylum provisions, and is broadly unpopular is false. It’s just wrong.”
Trump and congressional leaders from both parties have continued discussions to overcome the stalemate. But the two sides have been unable to overcome their differences despite the regular meetings. Trump has repeatedly argued for the border wall in light of serious security concerns at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
“The American people will see plainly what senators want to make a law and clean up this mess and what senators are content on continuing to make political points and nothing else,” McConnell, for his part, said from the floor hours before the vote. “Any one of my Democratic colleagues who rejects the compromise offers but accepts the Democratic leader’s partisan showmanship will be saying the following: They will be saying that political fights with the president matter more than federal workers and their families, border security, DACA and TPS receipts.”
House Democrats have made other attempts to end the shutdown. They passed two bills intended to fund most of the government while leaving room to debate border security. They later passed four separate appropriations bills.
But the House Democratic bills were and are unlikely to get far without border wall funding, with the president threatening to use his veto powers. McConnell has also said he wouldn’t bring up any bills the president wasn’t willing to sign.
The dreamers are individuals who were brought into the country illegally by adults when they were only minors. They are named for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Former President Barack Obama provided protections for them through an executive action that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
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