Senators Assign Blame as Shutdown Extends

WASHINGTON – Competing plans to reopen the government failed Thursday in the U.S. Senate, sending all parties back to the drawing board as the partial shutdown of the federal government approached the end of its 34th day.

A proposal favored by President Donald Trump to reopen shuttered federal departments and agencies that also included $5.7 billion for his proposed wall at the U.S. southern border failed to get the 60 votes required to advance. It received 50 votes for passage and 47 no votes.

A Democratic measure to reopen the government through Feb. 8 similarly fell short of the 60-vote threshold. It received 52 yes votes and 44 no votes.   

The outcome of both votes was expected, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said. Portman supported the president’s bill, a “constructive compromise” offered by Trump he said strengthened border security, provided certainty to immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program and others, and immediately reopen the entire federal government permanently.

The short-term proposal offered by Senate Democrats wasn’t a compromise and “contained provisions that guaranteed a presidential veto, including prohibiting any of the funds from being used to make our borders more secure with new fencing and barriers,” he said.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have the power to end the shutdown and the suffering it has caused right now, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.

“A bill to reopen the government was put on the Senate Floor today, and Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to do their jobs and end this shutdown,” Brown said. “I’m calling on Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump and my Republican colleagues to listen to the hardworking Americans who are suffering under this unnecessary and avoidable shutdown. Talk to the workers and military members and small business owners who you’re hurting. Reopen the government and do it today.”

Portman said it was “time to get past the political posturing and come together to resolve this impasse.” For the past few weeks he has worked with Democrats and Republicans to come up with a way forward.

“There is a third way forward that would strengthen our border security and address immigration issues like DACA and [temporary protected status]. We’re not that far apart on these issues,” he said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues and my hope is that we can now proceed to an approach that will lead to a successful outcome that will reopen government and ensure better border security.”

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.