Senate Rejects Two Bills to Reopen Government in First Votes to End Shutdown



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Senate leaders are working on a new path forward.

The Senate on Thursday rejected two measures to reopen government, the first votes the chamber has held to end the partial government shutdown since it began 34 days ago.

Both bills, one endorsed by President Trump and favored by Republicans and the other supported primarily by Democrats, received a majority of votes but did not clear the required 60-vote threshold. The Republican-favored measure included Trump’s suggested funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, temporary protections for non-citizens with legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protective Status programs and other immigration reforms, while the Democratic effort was a “clean” stopgap continuing resolution to fund agencies through Feb. 8.

Just one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined nearly all Republicans on the Trump-backed bill, while six Republicans joined all Democrats on the CR.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had previously blocked any votes to reopen government from reaching the floor, saying he would only consider a measure that had Trump’s endorsement. The failed votes appeared to spark at least some movement on negotiations Thursday afternoon, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., quickly huddled with McConnell in the majority leader’s office after the CR was rejected.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said from the Senate floor he had spoken to Trump, who was open to a three-week stopgap bill if it included some tweaks, causing a response from the White House.

“Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer are meeting now to see whether or not they can work out of the deadlock,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. “As was made clear to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the three-week CR would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall.”

At the White House, Trump was asked if he would support the McConnell-Schumer negotiations.

“If they come to a reasonable agreement I would support it, yeah,” he said, adding he has “other alternatives if I have to” with regard to a border wall.

The House also voted along largely partisan lines this week on multiple bills to reopen government, but McConnell has no plans to take them up in the Senate. House Democrats have now passed 10 bills to end the shutdown.

Eric Katz is a Senior Correspondent at Government Executive, which originally published this article. 

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