WASHINGTON—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to bring legislation to the floor this week that would reopen the government and could be the first glimmer of a compromise between Democrats and Republicans over funding the full government.
The chamber will hold two votes Jan. 24, one based on a House-passed resolution to temporarily fund the government. The other is modeled off President Donald Trump’s proposal, announced Jan. 19, that includes $5.7 billion for a border wall and would allow 700,000 Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and more than 300,000 of those with temporary protected status to stay in the country legally for another three years, “so that Congress can work on a larger immigration deal, which everybody wants,” Trump said in his unveiling of the proposal.
The Democrats’ proposal would fund the government through Feb. 8, and a Senate amendment would include aid for states that have been hit by natural disasters.
“In other words, for the first time, we would get a vote on whether to open up the government without any decision one way or another on border security,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Jan. 22.
He called Trump’s proposal “neither reasonable, nor a compromise,” signaling that neither side may have enough votes to advance their legislation.
Either proposal will need 60 votes, meaning seven Democrats and/or independents would have to vote for Trump’s proposal or 15 Republicans and/or independents for the Democrats’ proposal. Democrats will likely get the votes of the two independents, who caucus with the Democrats.
Democratic leadership objected to Trump’s proposal even before he laid it out, but Republican leadership is pushing ahead, likely hoping it will get the support of more moderate members of the party.
Democrats have long wanted protection for DACA recipients, individuals who were brought into the country illegally as children, but some have complained that this is only a temporary fix. The leadership has also come out strongly against the wall as a symbol, and has refused to negotiate on border security until the government is funded.
“[Trump’s proposal] would break through the stalemate that would reopen government swiftly, and deliver on a number of other policy priorities that are seen as important to both sides of the aisle,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Jan. 22. “All that needs to happen is our Democratic friends to agree that it’s time to put the country ahead of politics.”
Meanwhile, Trump has urged Republicans not to “cave” to the other side’s demands, due to the pressure from the shutdown.
Some 800,000 federal and other workers have missed one paycheck as a result of the partial shutdown, now in its 32nd day. If it goes on through Jan. 25, they will miss another paycheck.
Trump says he won’t sign anything unless it includes wall funding, and McConnell has said he won’t entertain legislation unless it could get the president’s signature.
“The proposal outlined by President Trump that we will consider here in the Senate is the only proposal, the only one currently before us, that can be signed by the president and immediately reopen the government,” McConnell said, emphasizing “only.”