GOP senator calls on Congress to end shutdown without border deal

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment MORE (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough reelection in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE’s border wall. 

Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall. 

“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” he said. 

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Gardner says the onus will then be on Democrats to explain why they don’t support more money for border security after they voted to spend an additional $46 billion on the border in 2013. 

All but five Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee last year voted for a homeland security funding bill that allocated $1.6 billion for border fencing. Democratic leaders have since retrenched their offer, proposing $1.3 billion — the same amount Congress appropriated for fiscal 2018 — for border fencing. 

“We can pass legislation that has the appropriations number in it while we continue to get more but we should continue to do our jobs and get the government open,” Gardner said, referring to the funding number for border fencing that Democrats have already agreed to. 

Gardner said negotiations on Trump’s border wall can continue once federal agencies are reopened and Republicans can “let Democrats explain why they no longer support border security.” 

Parts of the government have been closed since Dec. 22 after Democrats rejected Trump’s demand for $5 billion in wall funding.

The Senate passed a stopgap measure to keep the government open until Feb. 8. It kept funding for border fencing flat at the 2018 level. 

The House, however, did not act on that bill, and instead passed a measure that included $5.7 billion in funding for the wall and border security. Democrats objected to that measure in the Senate.  

Gardner is up for reelection in 2020 in a state Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE won by 5 points in 2016. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE (R-Ky.) says he will not schedule a vote on a clean stopgap funding measure to re-open federal agencies without prior sign-off from the president. 

He said a spending package that House Democrats plan to approve later on Thursday is “not a serious contribution to the negotiations” because “it isn’t comprehensive” and “it ignores the needs of border security.”

The two bills include one package of six appropriations bills that would provide funding for covered agencies through the fiscal year, and a separate stopgap that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8.

“The six bills are the same bills that Republicans, including Leader McConnell, supported in the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump says he will meet with Schumer 'ASAP' after border visit Dem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties MORE (N.Y.) noted on the Senate floor Wednesday.