Washington, Jan 25: The US Senate has failed to pass a pair of partisan measures to end the ongoing government shutdown on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer started negotiating a spending bill to solve the problem.
The US federal government has been partially closed since December 22 amid the border wall funding dispute between US President Donald Trump and the congressional Democrats. Trump has asked the Congress to provide $5.7 billion to build the border wall, but the Democrats have refused to meet the demand. Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay for more than a month.
The Senate Democrats were unable on Thursday to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on a bill that would reopen the federal government for two weeks without providing funding to build a wall on the US border with Mexico. The Senate voted 52-44 on the measure.
The Senate Republicans were unable to advance their measure, which proposed allocating $5.7 billion to build the border wall and providing protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. The Senate voted 50-47 on the measure.
A total of 60 votes were needed to advance both bills toward a final vote.
House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said US President Donald Trump must commit to reopening the government first and then negotiating on border security measures.
By contrast, Senator Mike Braun said he had voted in support of the Trump-supported bill to address border security, immigration reform and fully reopen the federal government, but the Democrats had blocked the legislation out of blind opposition to the president’s attempt to secure the United States’ southern border.
US President Trump would consider a resolution to fund the US federal government only if it contains a significant down payment for the wall on the southwest border, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
"Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Schumer are meeting now to see whether or not they can work out of the deadlock. As was made clear to Senator Lindsay Graham, the 3 week [Continuing Resolution] would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall," the statement said on Thursday.
Trump told reporters that he would support a reasonable agreement if the US Senate leaders reach a deal to reopen the federal government.
"If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it," he said on Thursday.
Trump said his administration had many alternatives to resolve the government shutdown, but he did not specify any details.
REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
Senators found reasons for optimism that a partial shutdown could end, despite the defeat of two measures on the Senate floor moments earlier during a subsequent appearance before a convention of US mayors.
"I’m pleased that even on a day when two other major amendments failed and were defeated, we have some sort of sprig of hope to try to get this government open as soon as possible and get to work on serious negotiations," Democratic Senator Chris van Hollen told the mayors on Thursday.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkoski expressed optimism based on a bipartisan group of about 20 senators, who expressed willingness during a Senate debate to forgo bipartisan wrangling to devise a way forward.
"What you saw for the past hour [on the Senate floor] again was an expression, hopefully of hope. For the first time in 34 days you’ve had a bipartisan group of senators coming together in public, speaking in public about a commitment to work together," Murkowski said.
Murkowski added that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Minority leader Chuck Schumer were meeting to plan the next step.
The most important thing "that has come out of the two votes today is the recognition of what we can’t do - we saw that play out with the vote count today - that’s what we can’t do," Murkowski said. "Now you’ve got leader McConnell and the minority leader [Schumer] trying to figure out what we can do."