Senate Bills Fail to End Shutdown, With or Without Wall; House Fails to Pay Affected Workers

January 24, 2019 Updated: January 24, 2019

The Senate failed on Jan. 24 to pass either of two bills that were aimed at ending the partial government shutdown.

One bill included $5.7 billion for the construction of the border wall, which President Donald Trump demands be included to let the government reopen. The tally of 50 “yays” to 47 “nays” failed to clear the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. Republicans, who hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber, are unable to pass funding bills without the support of at least seven Democrats.

The other measure, a Democratic alternative, excluded the border-wall funding. It also failed, by a vote of 55-44.

Two Republicans went against the Trump plan in the Senate: Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah. One Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, sided with Trump, and three senators abstained: Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

Rosen also abstained from the vote on the Democrats’ plan. All other Democrats voted for it, joined by six Republicans: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah. Paul and Risch abstained, along with Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives failed, again, to pass a measure to pay federal workers affected by the shutdown.

Sen. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters near the Senate Subway on Capitol Hill
Sen. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters near the Senate Subway on Capitol Hill on Jan. 24, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

About quarter of the government ran out of money on Dec. 22, 2018, as Trump and the Democrats failed to reach a deal on border-security funding.

Even if the Trump plan could pass in the Senate, it most likely would have been blocked in the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a majority.

House Republicans have introduced a measure to at least pay the federal workers—800,000 of them—who have been furloughed or have worked without pay because of the shutdown. All the GOP representatives have voted for the measure or abstained, but only six Democrats lent their support last week, causing it to fail.

In a sign of glacial change, the same measure failed again Jan. 24, but this time, it drew the support of 13 Democrats.

No Compromise

Trump took a series of steps to illuminate the reasoning behind the border-wall project and to make it more palatable to Democrats. He detailed the amount of drug and human trafficking as well as other crime connected with illegal border crossings, he invited border-security personnel to make the case for the wall’s necessity, and he created a team led by Vice President Mike Pence to hear out individual Democratic lawmakers.

Finally, on Jan. 19, he presented his proposal in a televised address, offering to bundle the wall money with several measures more politically friendly to Democrat leaders, including a three-year legislative extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields from deportation illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the proposal before Trump started his speech.

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