Both Democrat, Republican bills to reopen government fail in Senate

Chuck Schumer (left) and Mitch McConnell. Photos: Schumer -- Wikimedia Commons/sdmc, McConnell -- Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Jan. 24 (UPI) — The Senate voted against two bill to reopen the government Thursday, one proposed by President Donald Trump and another supported by Democrats.

Senators voted 50-47, several votes short of the 60 needed to pass legislation supported by Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation included the $5.7 billion Trump requested to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and would have funded the government through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s bill, which included no border wall funding, failed 52-44. The Democrat-controlled House passed the same legislation Jan. 16 with a vote of 237-187.

Both measures would have amended the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019 and provided funding to a quarter of government agencies that have been closed for more than a month, returning 800,000 federal employees to paid work.

McConnell’s bill

McConnell introduced a bill based on Trump’s proposal to reopen the government by offering protections for about 1 million undocumented immigrants in exchange for funds for the border wall.

The bill would have funded the government through Sept. 30 while also providing $12.7 billion in hurricane and wildfire disaster relief. It also would have extended the Violence Against Women Act, which expired at the start of the shutdown, through Sept. 30.

In an attempt to compromise with Democrats, the bill also included a three-year delay on Trump’s move to end protection for 700,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and 310,000 Temporary Protected Status holders.

It also provided $800 million for urgent humanitarian assistance, $805 million for drug detection technology and money to pay for 2,750 new border agents and 75 new immigration judges.

It also included changes to rules and requires minor children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to apply for U.S. asylum from their home countries, rather than at the U.S. border. It limits children able to qualify for the asylum program at 15,000 per year.

Schumer’s bill

Schumer described his bill as “essentially identical” to the one passed by the House earlier this month and ignored by the Senate.

“The president’s proposal demands a wall and radical legal immigration changes in exchange for opening up the government,” Schumer said. “[My bill] demands nothing in exchange for opening up the government.”

The measure would have given funding to reopen the government agencies for three weeks, until Feb. 8 — giving Congress more time to fully weigh security issues. It also provided $14 billion in unrelated disaster-relief funding for hurricanes, wildfires and other incidents.

The bill did not earmark any money for border security — meaning it wouldn’t pay for a wall, more border agents, judges or technology. It also didn’t directly address the DACA or TPS programs, although both are likely to remain in place for at least several months due to orders by federal judges.

Ultimately, there are no immigration-related procedures in Schumer’s bill, leaving U.S. asylum rules unchanged.

The prospects of each bill

Both measures required 60 votes to pass the Senate, where Republicans control 53 seats to Democrats’ 47. Many experts said passage for either measure was unlikely.

McConnell hailed the president’s proposal as a “bold, comprehensive offer,” adding it’s “the only proposal that can be signed by the president and immediately reopen the government.”

“Enough political spite. Enough showboating for ‘the Resistance.’ The President has produced a fair compromise that pairs full-year government funding with immigration policy priorities from both sides. It’s time to make a deal,” McConnell wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

Democrats, however, are holding firm in their resolve to oppose paying billions toward a border wall.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Schumer said the president’s proposal was going “nowhere fast” and was not made in good faith, as he said Trump was responsible for killing the programs he is now offering to extend.

“The president single-handedly canceled DACA and TPS protections,” Schumer said. “Now offering some temporary protections in exchange for the wall is not a compromise, it’s more hostage taking.”

Some Republicans have expressed support for a stopgap bill like Schumer’s to reopen the government — but even if the short-term version would have succeeded, it would have found resistance on Trump’s desk. The president has said he won’t approve any bill that doesn’t include money for a wall.

“Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “With a powerful Wall or Steel Barrier, Crime Rates (and Drugs) will go substantially down all over the U.S. The Dems know this but want to play political games. Must finally be done correctly. No Cave!”


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