Senate blocks White House-backed bill to end shutdown

Senate Democrats blocked a White House–backed plan to end the 34-day partial shutdown, turning it down in a 50-47 vote on Thursday.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (D-W.Va.) joined with Republicans to advance the measure, but it fell short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.

In an unexpected development, GOP Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 New act can help us grapple with portion of exploding national debt MORE (Utah) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown 'Morning Joe' host quizzes Howard Schultz on price of a box of Cheerios Huawei charges escalate Trump fight with China MORE (Ark.) voted against Trump's plan. Lee is considered a fiscal hawk, and Cotton is one of the Senate’s most conservative members on immigration.

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The Senate is expected to hold a second vote Thursday on a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the quarter of the government currently closed until Feb. 8. That bill is also expected to fail, though a few Republicans have said they will support it.

The measure backed by most Republicans would have provided $5.7 billion for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE’s proposed wall on the Mexican border and also would have let Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and some temporary protected status holders apply for a three-year extension of protected status. The measure also placed new restrictions on asylum seekers.

The vote is the first time the Senate has taken up Trump’s request for $5.7 billion for the wall since the partial shutdown started last month.

It’s a U-turn for Senate Republicans who have largely stayed on the sidelines of the fight after Trump rejected a Senate-passed CR late last year. But GOP senators have grown antsy as the funding fight has dragged on, and they’ll likely use the vote to attack Democrats, who have largely remained unified during the battle.

Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault MORE (R-Ky.) had said that a bill needed to have the backing of both Trump and Democrats to receive a floor vote, he touted the White House plan as the only one that could “make a law” and therefore deserves a vote.

“What will be on display in this chamber today: The American people will see plainly what senators want to make a law and clean up this mess and which senators are continuing to make political points and nothing else,” McConnell said. “Making law versus making points, that’s the choice.”

Republicans have argued that Trump’s proposal is a “compromise” because it includes some immigration measures, as well as sweeteners for Democrats like an extension of the Violence Against Women Act and more than $12 billion in disaster relief.

Trump tried to play up bipartisanship when he first detailed the proposal over the weekend, saying his administration had reached out to rank-and-file members in both parties and that his offer was a “common sense compromise both parties should embrace.”

Manchin, who is from a state where Trump remains popular, became the first Democrat to say, hours ahead of the Senate floor showdown, that he would vote for the GOP measure.

“I'm voting for both. I'm doing everything in my power to open up this government,” Manchin told WV Metro News.

But Democrats have shown little signs of caving in the entrenched funding fight. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans believe Trump is more to blame for the partial shutdown, which has forced roughly 800,000 federal workers to be furloughed or work without pay. A Fox News poll released Thursday found that 51 percent say Trump is more to blame, compared to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Federal workers will miss their second paycheck during the shutdown on Friday.

Democrats have demanded that Trump reopen the government before they negotiate on border security.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump says he 'didn't need to' declare emergency but wanted 'faster' action MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted the White House-backed bill as “partisan” but argued that the CR could pass if Republicans were willing to break with Trump — something most of them have been unwilling to do during the funding fight.

“When one side — in this case, the president — throws a temper tantrum and uses the basic functioning of our government as leverage in a policy argument, our system of government breaks down. If every president decided to shut down the government when they didn’t get a policy from Congress, America would careen from crisis to crisis, an endless spiral of gridlock and dysfunction,” Schumer said.

Senators are hoping that if both bills fail it would force Trump and Democrats to restart talks, which derailed during a White House meeting earlier this month, though Thursday’s votes provided no clear path to a quick solution.

A group of moderate senators are continuing to talk behind closed doors and have floated asking for a temporary CR in exchange for agreeing to take up Trump's border request; they are expected to outline their framework on the Senate floor later Thursday. Some GOP senators, including members of leadership, have also floated potentially broadening negotiations, by including more issues viewed as important Trump and Democrats, as an exit path.  

“I actually think the president will have moved this process forward,” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, “by beginning the process of expanding it so that we can reach a conclusion.”