Senate to vote on dueling government funding bills
Senate leadership on Tuesday struck an agreement to vote on dueling proposals to reopen the federal government.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set up two votes for Thursday afternoon, both of which will require 60 votes to advance.
The first vote will be on President Trump’s proposal to reopen the government, provide $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall and extend legal protections to some immigrants for three years. If that fails, the Senate would then vote on a three-week continuing resolution (CR) to fund a quarter of the government through Feb. 8.
Trump’s proposal would need to win over seven Democrats, in addition every Senate Republican, in order to overcome the filibuster. No Democratic senator has said they will back it. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the only Democrat still in the chamber who supported a larger Trump-proposed immigration deal last year, is undecided on the new, more narrow effort, according to a spokesman.
Meanwhile, Democrats, who have 47 seats, will need 13 Republicans to advance the stopgap bill. The Senate previously passed a CR in late December to fund the quarter of the government impacted by the shutdown through Feb. 8, only for Trump to come out against the measure because it didn’t include additional funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
A handful of Republican senators have floated passing a three-week continuing resolution (CR) in exchange for the Senate Appropriations Committee agreeing to take up Trump’s border request.
But that idea has struggled to gain traction outside of a band of centrist senators and Trump has publicly shot down similar ideas.
McConnell told CNN after the floor action that “of course” he will oppose the continuing resolution (CR) into February.
There is no guarantee that either bill can get the votes to pass and break the months-long stalemate that has closed roughly a quarter of the government.
McConnell’s office immediately pushed back against the characterization of Senate leadership having an “agreement” to hold votes.
Though McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) set up the competing measures through unanimous consent, meaning neither of them objected, they do not agree on the path out of the partial shutdown.
A Democratic aide said that the trade off was that in exchange for letting McConnell skip over an initial procedural hurdle, they got a 60-threshold vote related to their stopgap bill to temporarily reopen the government.
Schumer thanked McConnell after he set up the votes and pointed to the Democratic proposal as a way out of the funding fight.
“We have a Second Amendment that could break us out of the morass we are in. … For the first time, we will get a vote on whether to open the government without any decision one way or the other on border security,” Schumer said.
Roughly a quarter of the government has been shut down since Dec. 22 after Congress and Trump failed to get a deal on funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
McConnell argued earlier Tuesday that the White House-backed proposal was the only option on the table that could end the stalemate because it’s the only measure Trump has endorsed.
“The opportunity to end all this is staring us right in the face. That’s why we’ll vote on this legislation on the Senate floor this week. All that needs to happen is for our Democratic colleagues to agree that it’s time to put the country ahead of politics, take yes for an answer and vote to put this standoff behind us,” McConnell said.
But Democrats have been trying to increase pressure for the careful GOP leader to break with the president in the funding fight, something members of his leadership team have said will not happen.
McConnell has blocked the House passed package that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8 and the rest of the impacted departments and agencies through Sept. 30.
Schumer, earlier Tuesday, knocked McConnell for trying to cast the blame for the shutdown fight on Democrats, referring to the GOP leader as a “co-conspirator” to Trump.
“It was not a good-faith proposal. …The president’s proposal is one-sided, harshly partisan and was made in bad faith,” he added.