Once again, the US Senate failed to pass bills aimed at reopening the government after the shutdown, which has now gone on for more than a month — the longest in history. The first bill was one backed by Donald Trump, which included the $5.7 billion request for money to begin construction of a border wall, and gave Democrats almost nothing in return. It would have provided an extension for DACA recipients, which was a pointless offer after the Supreme Court again declined to take action on the program, leaving it in effect anyway.
That bill fell far short of the 60 votes it would need to overcome a filibuster.
The second bill was championed by Democrats led by Chuck Schumer and would have reopened the government in advance of any debate over wall funding, plus provided back pay for those who have been furloughed during the shutdown. That bill also failed, but in doing so, created a point of contention that Trump will almost certainly have to deal with in the near term: Six Republicans broke ranks and voted for that bill, indicating an exasperation with the President’s ongoing intransigence over wall funding.
Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) all voted with the Democrats on the issue, and although three of them — the Senators from Alaska, Colorado, and Maine — are facing intense pressure from constituents to end the shutdown, that brings up something that Trump has only rarely successfully navigated: The problem of wrangling Republicans to an unpopular issue when they’re facing reelection.
All three of them, perhaps in the interest of keeping the peace with Trump, voted for the bill advanced by the President and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well. But that perhaps indicates less that they agree with Trump and McConnell and more that they will simply vote for anything at this point that gets the government funded and operating again.
That seems like a small step for Republicans in the path to coming around to what the majority of Americans have indicated they want. But it’s a step nonetheless.
Featured image via screen capture