Shutdown Update: Senate To Vote on Funding Bills Thursday

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Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced an agreement late today under which the Senate will vote Thursday on two pieces of legislation that would clear the way to fully fund government operations and at least temporarily end the partial Federal government shutdown, which entered its 31st day today.

Whether either of those pieces of legislation wins approval from the House, Senate, and President Trump remains unclear.

But today’s announcement of the planned Senate votes at least carried a whiff of bipartisan feeling as it represented a procedural agreement between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The first piece of legislation embodies President Trump’s announcement Friday of what he called a “commonsense compromise” for ending the shutdown while including $5.7 billion in border wall funding, and a three-year relief period for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The second piece of legislation would not include border wall funding and would reopen all of the Federal government through Feb. 8. That would open the government long enough for delivery of a State of the Union Address, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., re-issues a formal invite to the President.

“To reject this proposal, Democrats would have to prioritize political combat with the President ahead of Federal workers, ahead of DACA recipients, ahead of border security, and ahead of stable and predictable government funding,” Sen. McConnell said.

The Democratic proposal is one that already has House support, but it is unlikely to receive the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.

Conversely, President Trump’s proposal is unlikely to receive the necessary votes to move forward after Democratic lawmakers said today that the legislation contains more stringent limits on the U.S. asylum program. Sen. Schumer called the asylum changes a “poison pill” that show a “lack of good faith.” Instead,

Senate Democrats will be adding an amendment to that bill which will “open up the government without any decision one way or the other on border security,” and will add disaster relief funding.

“People are saying, isn’t there a way out of this mess? Isn’t there a way to relieve the burden on the 800,000 Federal workers not getting paid? Isn’t there a way to get the government services open first and debate what we should do for border security later? Well, now there’s a way,” Sen. Schumer said today on the Senate floor.

With the partial government shutdown reaching its 31st, Federal workers’ furlough notices have expired, and the Office of Personnel Management updated guidance stating that agencies should issue additional furlough notices. Some Federal employees are on the verge of missing a second paycheck since the start of the shutdown.

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