Senate blocks Trump-backed plan to end government shutdown and fund his border wall
The Senate blocked a GOP-backed bill to fund the government and President Donald Trump’s border wall Thursday.
The measure failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance as Republicans could not get enough Democrats to back it. The chamber rejected it in a 50-47 vote. Three senators — Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah — broke with their parties.
The Senate will next vote on a separate Democratic proposal to fund the government through Feb. 8 without money for the barrier. The Senate is also expected to oppose that plan.
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Democrats and some Republicans in the Senate have urged Trump to temporarily reopen the government while the White House and Congress negotiate a broader immigration deal. Trump has insisted on securing funding for the wall before he agrees to fund the government.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said he will not back a deal Trump does not support — even though the Senate voted unanimously before the shutdown started to keep the government running without funding for the barrier.
The Democratic-held House has repeatedly voted to fund the closed quarter of the government, or individual departments, without putting money toward the wall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged McConnell to pass the measures.
“Let’s have that discussion [about border security] after we open up government,” she told reporters Thursday.
The Senate votes Thursday come as the financial pain felt by 800,000 federal employees is about to sharpen. On Friday, those workers will start losing their second paychecks since the partial closure started on Dec. 22.
Thousands of government employees have scrambled to pay for meals and cover their bills. The shutdown has affected various services from airports to FBI investigations and food safety inspections. As hundreds of thousands of workers face furloughs or work without pay, the shutdown is expected to reduce gross domestic product growth.
Surveys indicate most Americans see the closure as a “crisis” or at least a “problem.” They largely put the shutdown on Trump’s shoulders. As Americans seek an end to the impasse, more of them believe the president should yield rather than think congressional Democrats should, according to a CBS News poll.
The stalemate more broadly represents gridlock in Washington. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would stop Trump from giving his State of the Union address in the House chamber until the shutdown ends. The president gave in, saying late Wednesday that he will deliver the speech when the closure is over rather than find a different venue.
The Republican plan that failed would put $5.7 billion toward building the president’s proposed wall. In an attempt to appease Democrats, Trump offered a three-year extension of legal protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and migrants fleeing crises in certain countries. It would also put more than $12 billion toward disaster relief, among other provisions.
Democrats eviscerated it, as the limited concessions for “Dreamers” did not go as far as previous proposals offering permanent residency or even a path to citizenship. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called the plan “one-sided, harshly partisan and made in bad faith.”
McConnell earlier Thursday described the Democratic-backed plan as one “that does not have a chance of becoming law and solving the problem,” according to The Washington Post. He did not comment to reporters about what the next steps would be if the bills failed.
It is unclear what steps lawmakers and Trump will take next. Earlier Thursday, Pelosi she would “meet with [Trump] any time he wants to meet” as the shutdown continues.
She also denied reports of a brewing Democratic counteroffer to Trump that would include $5.7 billion for technology and other measures for border security, but not a new barrier. Democrats have insisted that the U.S. can secure its borders without a wall as Trump describes it.
Trump shot down that notion Thursday. He wrote in a tweet: “Very simply, without a Wall it doesn’t work.”
He added: “We will not cave!”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.