Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, blocked a House-passed package to reopen the federal government for a second time in as many weeks on Tuesday.
Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Ben Cardin (Md.) asked for consent to take up a package of bills that would reopen the federal government. One bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, while the other would fund the rest of the impacted departments and agencies through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Any senator can ask for consent to vote on or pass a bill under Senate rules, but any senator can object. McConnell blocked the two bills, saying the Senate wouldn’t “participate in something that doesn’t lead to an outcome.”
McConnell has maintained his position for weeks not bring legislation to the floor on the shutdown unless there was a deal between President Trump and Democrats on border security.
“The solution to this is a negotiation between the one person in the country who can sign something into law, the president of the United States, and our Democratic colleagues,” McConnell said Tuesday.
Trump is demanding more than $5 billion for his promised wall. Democratic leadership has pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap and argued that it must go to fencing.
House Democrats passed their package to fully reopen the government earlier this month, but those bills are expected to go nowhere in the GOP-led Senate.
McConnell attempted to create a divide between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democrats earlier Tuesday, characterizing the newly elected House leader as making border security “take a back seat to the political whims of the far left.”
“Here in the Senate my Democratic colleagues have an important choice to make. They could stand with common sense border experts, with federal workers and with their own past voting records, by the way, or they could continue to remain passive spectators complaining from the sidelines, as the Speaker refuses to negotiate with the White House,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
Talks between Trump and congressional leadership are at a standstill after the president walked out of a White House meeting last week when Pelosi told him that Democrats would not consider border wall funding even if he fully reopened the government.