Senate rejects two measures to end shutdown

Senate Republicans blocked a stopgap measure to end the partial shutdown on Thursday, the second of two failed efforts to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Senators voted 52-44 on the legislation, falling short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.

GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Reopening schools seen as vital step in pandemic recovery OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget MORE (Tenn.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump sealed his own fate Congress eyes tighter restrictions on next round of small business help The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus MORE (Maine), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump nominee faces Senate hurdles to securing public lands post The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks MORE (Colo.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonWarnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter Doug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' MORE (Ga.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police MORE (Alaska) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Gianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem MORE (Utah) broke rank and voted to advance the stopgap bill, which would have reopened the quarter of the government currently shuttered and funded it through Feb. 8.

ADVERTISEMENT

The vote came after the Senate also rejected a White House–backed proposal on Thursday that would have exchanged reopening the government for $5.7 billion for the wall. It would have allowed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and some temporary protected status holders to apply for a three-year extension of some legal protections, but included new restrictions on asylum seekers.

In a blow to Trump, that proposal got less support in the Senate than the stopgap measure, failing in a 50-47 vote.

The back-to-back failed votes in the Senate guarantees that the partial government shutdown will stretch into next week. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or forced to work without pay; they will miss their second paycheck on Friday.

The rejection of the stopgap bill comes after the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) late last month that would have prevented the partial shutdown and funded the government through Feb. 8. But the political landscape changed dramatically for Republicans after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE indicated that he would not support it without extra funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The earlier bill was passed in a voice vote with senators singing Christmas carols while they waited for the vote.

The moods have changed considerably since then.

“Leader McConnell says that President Trump’s bill is the only way to open up the government — bull. He claims our bill won’t pass because President Trump won’t sign it. Has he ever heard of a veto override? Has he ever heard of Article I?” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Public awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor on Thursday.

Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Americans believe Trump is more to blame for the partial shutdown. 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 mess their second paycheck during the shutdown on Friday.

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police Hillicon Valley: Justice Department announces superseding indictment against WikiLeaks' Assange | Facebook ad boycott gains momentum | FBI sees spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats | Boston city government bans facial recognition technology MORE (D-Hawaii) said in a tweet on Friday that it wasn't “tenable” for Republicans to vote against reopening the government.

“You don’t get to say you want the government open but vote against the bill to reopen the government. It’s time to walk the talk,” Schatz said.

But Trump has shown no signs of backing down from his demand for wall funding. He tweeted on Thursday morning ahead of the vote: “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!”

Senate Republicans have largely remained aligned with Trump. They are defending a majority of their 2020 Senate seats in red states and don’t want to set up a fight with the president over an issue viewed as crucial to their base.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Eighty-eight years of debt pieties Ernst says Trump should sign defense policy bill with military base renaming provision MORE (R-Ky.) tried to characterize the decision between the two votes as wanting to make a “law,” by backing the GOP effort, or trying to make “points,” by supporting the short-term continuing resolution.

Republicans are trying to drive a wedge between House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide On The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? Military bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.) and Democrats, who have remained deeply unified throughout the weeks-long fight.

“They know the Speaker of the House is unreasonable on these subjects, with her own members and her own House majority leader openly contradicting her on national television, and that Senate Democrats are not obligated to go down with her ship,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Senators are hoping that both bills failing 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. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Jaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham MORE (R-S.C.), who has been a part of that group, reiterated on Thursday that he still wanted to pass a three-week stopgap bill but they likely needed more buy-in from Pelosi if they were going to gain traction.  

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 BluntRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, “by beginning the process of expanding it so that we can reach a conclusion.”