Kids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal
GOP senator calls on Congress to end shutdown without border deal
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.
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 Clinton won by 5 points in 2016.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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 Schumer (N.Y.) noted on the Senate floor Wednesday.