Senate to vote on competing bills to end government shutdown Thursday

Both pieces of legislation — Trump's border wall funding plan, and a separate Democratic proposal — are widely expected to fail.

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By Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V

WASHINGTON — The Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday afternoon on two competing bills that aim to re-open the federal government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday, the 32nd day of the partial government shutdown.

While the 2:30 p.m. ET vote will mark the first time the Senate will take action to end the shutdown since it began on Dec. 22, both pieces of legislation are expected to fail.

McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate hold a vote on a proposal made by President Donald Trump over the weekend that would re-open the government in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall funding and temporary protection for some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, among other immigration provisions.

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The measure, which the president unveiled on Saturday, needs the support of 60 senators to advance to a final vote — which means it would require votes from Senate Democrats, who have already declared the plan dead on arrival. Assuming all Republicans vote in favor of this bill, seven Democrats would have to defect in order for it to advance, which is highly unlikely.

“You can’t have a compromise when one side is determining not only what they want in the bill, but what we want in the bill without even seriously negotiating with us. That’s not how negotiating works. That’s not the Art of the Deal,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the GOP plan on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“What we have here is just another one-sided, partisan proposal from the president. And contrary to the president’s claims, it hardly represents a softening of his position. If anything, it’s even more radical,” he added.

Separately, the GOP-controlled Senate will vote Thursday afternoon on a Democratic short-term spending bill that excludes border wall funding and would reopen the government until Feb. 8. It would also include funding to respond to natural disasters. If all Democrats voted in favor of this measure, 13 Republicans would need to back it for it to move on to a final vote.

The decision to hold these votes, which are widely expected to fall short, come after McConnell's repeated insistence over the past few weeks that the only bill the Senate would take up would have to be one that could get a signature from Trump, earn enough Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome the 60-vote procedural hurdle, and pass the Democratic-controlled House.

“The Senate will not waste time on show votes, messaging votes, or any other proposals which fail to check those boxes regarding the funding bills,” McConnell said earlier this month on the Senate floor.

Trump on Tuesday continued to blast Democrats for their lack of support for his border wall policy.

"Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security. 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!"

A few hours later, he tweeted praise for the congressional GOP. "Never seen [McConnell] and Republicans so united on an issue as they are on the Humanitarian Crisis & Security on our Southern Border. If we create a Wall or Barrier which prevents Criminals and Drugs from flowing into our Country, Crime will go down by record numbers!"

Meanwhile, House Democrats plan to bring more appropriations bills to reopen the government to the floor this week, which would add more than $1 billion in border-related funds — not for the wall — in an attempt to sweeten the package for Republicans.