US Senate kills two bills attempting to reopen government

US Senate kills two bills attempting to reopen government

Agency News

Washington, Jan 25: The US Senate on Thursday blocked two bills attempting to reopen the U.S. government, as both political parties struggle to reach consensus on ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

The voting on the bills, backed by the White House and Democrats respectively, on day 34 of the government shutdown, yielded no winner as neither received the 60 yes-votes needed to move forward.

Moderate lawmakers from both parties pleaded in the wake of the voting for cooperation, while senators farther on either end of the political spectrum traded blames for the failure to reopen the government.

One of the bills, introduced by the Republican Party with the blessings of President Donald Trump, calls for allocating 5.7 billion U.S. dollars to fund a border wall between the United States and Mexico, which Trump said would be instrumental in curbing illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking along the 3,145-km border.

With all but one Democratic senator voting against the bill, and two Republicans opposing, the bill failed with a 50 for, 47 against margin.

It is believed that Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, two hardliners who voted against the bill, turned it down because they saw it as too soft on immigration policies.

"If this had been a vote to begin debate on a deal to end the shutdown, I would have happily voted yes," Lee said in a statement after the vote, adding "this bill as is simply does not do enough to reform our immigration system or address the crisis at our southern border."

"I could not support the bill because it gives legal status to illegal aliens without first securing our borders, implementing e-verify, and ending chain migration -- all of which would eliminate the incentives for more illegal immigration," Cotton said.

The other bill, backed by the Democrats, calls on the government to temporarily resume its operation until Feb. 8 but grants no fund for the border wall, garnered 52 for votes and 44 against.

The bill, dubbed by some as a "clean bill" for its lack of preconditions, surprisingly won the support of six Republican senators.

Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Nevada departed party line to vote in favor of the bill.

Speaking after the vote, Murkowski said she voted for both bills because she believes that it's important for the government to reopen as soon as possible.

Senators on the two sides of the aisle traded accusations after the votes, blaming each other for the government shutdown and the failure to reach consensus.

"We can absolutely have a conversation about border security once this shutdown ends, but Republicans need to stop covering for President Trump's partisan games and work with us to end this crisis," said Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington.

"It's unacceptable that Senate Democrats continue to reject every opportunity to compromise in good faith," Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia tweeted.

The votes on Thursday were the first major showdown between the two parties in the Senate, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had blocked voting on previous bills passed by the Democrat-led House of Representatives.

While the failures produced no tangible result, analysts believe the voting is nevertheless a step forward as it can be an indicator of the mood among lawmakers to provide a clearer direction for negotiators, and also be an incentive for lawmakers to make concessions in hope of a deal.

"Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Schumer are meeting now to see whether or not they can work out of the deadlock," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, adding that the White House would consider opening the government if it included "a large down payment on the wall," a notable step back from what Trump had previously asked for. (UNI-XINHUA)