McConnell: House government funding package a 'total non-starter'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.) warned that a House plan to fully reopen the federal government is a "total non-starter," comparing it to "political performance art" that will not be taken up in the Senate.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said Democrats will need to get "serious" about border security if a government funding agreement is to be reached because their package "will not be a serious contribution" to negotiations.

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"It's exactly the kind of proposal you'd expect if the incoming House Democrats are choosing to stage a political side show rather than doing the hard work of helping govern the country. In other words, a total non-starter," McConnell said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders late Tuesday said House Democrats' plan to reopen the government was a "non-starter," dubbing the proposal "the Pelosi plan" and saying that it "fails to secure the border and puts the needs of other countries above the needs of our own."

Members of congressional leadership, including McConnell, met with Trump and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenActing DHS secretary threatened to quit after clashing with Miller: report Trump wants border wall black, pointed: report Former DHS officials blocked Trump plan to arrest thousands of migrants before being ousted: report MORE for a "briefing" on border security earlier Wednesday. But they appeared to make no progress toward a deal and are expected to meet again Friday.

House Democrats are expected to vote Thursday on a package to reopen the government. One bill would fund DHS through Feb. 8. The second would fund the remaining six bills through Sept. 30, the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

The shutdown began Dec. 22 amid a stalemate on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The Senate had passed a seven-week stopgap bill and expected Trump would sign it. But the president, under fire from conservative lawmakers and allies, refused to support the bill and doubled down on his demand for $5 billion.

The House bill is considered dead on arrival in the Senate, where McConnell has pledged he will not bring it up.

McConnell on Wednesday night said he is not interested in "having show votes" in the Senate.

“The Senate will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill which cannot pass this chamber and which the president will not sign,” he said.