McConnell: House funding bill couldn’t pass Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted a House bill to reopen the government as “a time-wasting act of political posturing,” arguing that it couldn’t get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.

“Any viable compromise will need to carry the endorsement of the president before it receives a vote in either House of Congress. Under these conditions … the package presented by the House’s new Democratic leaders yesterday can only be seen as a time-wasting act of political posturing,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

{mosads}The House passed a package on Thursday night that would fully reopen the government by funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8 and the rest of the government through the end of the fiscal year.

But Trump has threatened to veto it and McConnell has pledged that he will not move it, or any other government funding bill, without Trump’s support.

The GOP leader added on Friday that he didn’t think the House bill could pass the Senate.

“The administration indicated yesterday the president would actually veto it, and it cannot earn the support of 60 of my colleagues over here in the Senate,” McConnell said.

Democrats argue that the House package would pass because the six non-DHS related bills largely mirror Senate bills that got bipartisan support last year.

The Senate also previously passed by voice vote a stopgap bill to fund a quarter of the government through Feb. 8.

There are early signs of fracturing among Republicans, with a handful of senators, including vulnerable incumbents up in 2020, publicly backing either passing a stopgap bill to fund the government or passing the six bills that are not linked to the border wall fight.

But McConnell has given no indication he would support either option, and no senator has come to the floor to try to force a vote.

McConnell and other members of congressional leadership are expected to go to the White House later Friday to met with President Trump to get a second “briefing” on the border.

They held an initial meeting on Wednesday but made no progress toward an agreement to break the stalemate on funding for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The partial shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the government, hit its two-week mark on Friday.

“I would hope that this time around, my friends across the aisle will come prepared to engage much more seriously on the issue at hand,” McConnell said on Friday.

But lawmakers and the White House remain far apart on funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Trump is demanding $5 billion for the wall, an amount that cannot pass the House now that it is controlled by Democrats or get 60 votes in the GOP-controlled Senate. 

Democrats have pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap in negotiations, which they would steer toward fencing instead of a physical wall. 

GOP senators and administration officials had floated a potential compromise around $2.5 billion — roughly half of what Trump is asking for. But Trump appeared to shoot that down earlier this week, adding in a Cabinet meeting that they were asking for $5.6 billion. 

Tags Donald Trump Government shutdown Mitch McConnell Senate spending bills

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