Trump’s border wall offer looks doomed in the Senate as 800,000 workers face another lost paycheck

Even as the record-long government shutdown hit its 32nd day Tuesday and 800,000 federal workers face a second round of missed paychecks, Congress is unlikely to pass a bill this week to end the closure.

The Senate released a bill Monday reflecting an offer President Donald Trump made Saturday to reopen the unfunded quarter of the government. While the chamber plans to take up the measure later this week, it will almost certainly fail to meet the 60-vote threshold — again leaving lawmakers at an impasse over the president’s proposed border wall.

The chamber plans to take up that proposal on Thursday afternoon. If it fails as expected, the Senate will take up a Democratic-backed bill to fund the government through Feb. 8 — a similar measure to the one Senate Republicans backed unanimously in December before Trump promised to veto it. Trump has given no indications that he will back the plan or relent on his demand for money for his proposed border wall, meaning the Democratic proposal faces a daunting path to approval in the GOP-held Senate.

The Trump-backed plan would put $5.7 billion toward building barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, along with funding for technology to find drugs at ports, thousands more border patrol agents and new immigration judges. In an attempt to earn Democratic support, Trump offered to extend legal protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, as well as people fleeing humanitarian disasters, for three years. The measure would also include nearly $13 billion in disaster relief funding.

The proposal is unlikely to get the seven Democratic votes needed to pass the Senate. The party’s leaders opposed Trump’s offer even before he outlined it on Saturday, calling it insufficient or a worse version of a previous immigration deal that crumbled. No Democrats offered support for the deal over the weekend — not even the centrist senators who represent pro-Trump states.

No clear path to ending the shutdown has emerged, even as already cash-strapped federal employees face their second lost paychecks starting Friday. If the impasse drags on, it will sap economic growth and could disrupt more government services from food assistance to courts and data reports.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast the offer Tuesday as “the only proposal … currently before us that could be signed by the president and immediately reopen the government.”

Americans have increasingly blamed Trump for the closure as the damage widens. In December, the president said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security” and “take the mantle” if funding lapsed. On Tuesday, he pledged not to back down from his wall demand as Democrats flatly refuse to pass funding for the project.

“Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security,” Trump claimed in a tweet Tuesday morning. He added: “The Dems know this but want to play political games.”

Trump now has to balance the appearance of good faith immigration talks with Democrats and criticism from conservatives who accuse him of offering “amnesty.” On Saturday, he cast his proposal as “straightforward, fair, reasonable and common sense” with “lots of compromise.”

But on Sunday, as he faced backlash from conservatives, the president wrote: “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else.” He also suggested he could deport the roughly 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not give in to his demands.

“Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!” he wrote.

Democrats have urged Trump to support legislation to temporarily reopen the government while lawmakers negotiate border security. But the president has repeatedly said he will not end the closure without funding for the wall.

In a statement Saturday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies.” The president’s offer “is not a compromise but more hostage taking,” the New York Democrat said.

“There’s only one way out: open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions,” he said.

Meanwhile, McConnell has pledged to only take up bills Trump supports. In a tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed he had “never seen” McConnell and Senate Republicans “so united on an issue.” At least four GOP senators — Cory Gardner of Colorado, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — have shown support for funding the government for a time while immigration talks continue.

The Democratic-controlled House has passed various bills to fund closed parts of the government. The party broadly supports a plan to open eight departments through September and a ninth, the Department of Homeland Security, only for a few weeks to allow further negotiations on immigration.

Democrats have tried to get McConnell to approve the House-passed bills, to no avail. Trump has shown no willingness to take that path yet.

McConnell’s office did not say Tuesday when exactly the chamber is expected to vote on Trump’s offer to end the shutdown.

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