Senators rejected two competing bills to end the government shutdown on Thursday — including one that would have reopened the government and funded a border wall.
The Senate Republican bill would have exchanged border wall funding for deportation protections that would cover the immigrant group known as dreamers. President Donald Trump inspired the bill with a compromise he offered during a speech on January 19.
But the bill ultimately failed to get approved by a 50 to 47 vote.
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The Senate was unlikely to pass either bill — it needed 60 votes to do so.
Democrats are instead hoping to pass a temporary spending bill, which would temporarily fund the government through February 8.
But the bill doesn’t include any funding for a border wall. House Democrats already passed the bill with their newly obtained majority. The partial government shutdown began over a dispute about border wall funding on December 22.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled the competing bills to come up Tuesday. He said from the floor the day after that the Republican bill was strong and included priorities both parties want.
The bill included protections for dreamers, disaster aid for victims of storms last year, and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act.
“We will be voting on the one plan, the one plan on the table, that would reopen the shuttered portions of the federal government,” McConnell said from the floor hours before the vote. “It’s a pragmatic compromise to end this impasse right away. So the choice is absolutely clear and the nation is watching. Members can vote to immediately reopen the entire government with a compromise package that the president will actually sign, or they can hold out for the Democratic leader’s dead-end proposal.”
Trump and congressional leaders have been unable to reach a compromise despite numerous meetings throughout the shutdown. The president has refused to sign any spending bills that don’t include $5.7 billion for the border security wall. Democratic leaders have said they are unwilling to negotiate the border wall until the shutdown is over.
“The president’s compromise would accomplish three things,” McConnell said. “First, it ends the shutdown and resumes pay for federal workers right way. Second, it strikes a bipartisan compromise on the issue of immigration and border security, with ideas from both sides. And third, it provides stable, full-year funding for the federal government, not another short-term band-aid.”
Trump announced his compromise offer during a speech at the White House. McConnell indicated soon afterward that he would bring up the compromise in a bill. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) released a draft of the proposal a few days later.
Democrats were quick to reject the offer. It also included protections for immigrants with a Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
“The two bills that are on the floor are not equivalent votes,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said from the floor before the vote. “My friends on the other side and come in the media who are being lazy called the two votes dueling proposals, as if there’s one Republican proposal and one Democratic proposal and they’re sort of equal. That’s just not true. The president’s plan demands 100 percent of what the president wants, $5.7 billion for a border wall and radical changes to the asylum system before reopening the government.”
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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