No progress: Tester, Daines split vote on competing border bills in Senate

Six Republican members of the U.S. Senate on Thursday joined Democrats in calling for President Donald Trump to reopen the federal government while negotiations continue over a wall on the southern border.

On the flip side, one Democrat joined Republicans in voting to fund the president’s wall and reopen government.

Sens Jon Tester and Steve Daines split their vote on the two competing bills.

The Senate on Thursday failed to reach the 60 vote threshold needed to move the two measures forward. The Republican plan would have funded the government for a year, offered immigration reforms and provide $5.7 billion for Trump’s wall.

The Democratic plan would have funded the government though Feb. 8 without providing funding for the wall, allowing negotiations to continue.

“I’m disappointed to see @realDonaldTrump’s bipartisan proposal to open our government and secure our borders fail, especially when the Dems have voted on similar bills in the past,” Daines Tweeted after the failed votes. “I stand ready to vote to open our gov, secure our borders and get our workers paid.”

Sen. Jon Tester, who opposes funding the wall, voted to reopen government and allow talks on border security to move forward. He said again that Montana remains among the states hardest hit by the shutdown, given its high percent of federal workers when compared to the overall workforce.

Tester said the Senate wasted an opportunity Thursday to re-open the government and get “hundreds of thousands of people across this country back to work.”

“Instead, 800,000 hardworking folks, including 7,000 in Montana, will miss a second paycheck (today),” Tester said. “Too many of my colleagues are willing to give the (Trump) administration a blank check for a border wall while leaving the very people who secure our borders, our airports, and our National Parks out in the cold.”

Gov. Steve Bullock, who chairs the National Governor’s Association, also issued a statement after Thursday’s failed vote. The statement came on behalf of several national organizations, including the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities and the United States Conference of Mayors.

“We implore you to immediately end the federal government shutdown and re-open the federal agencies that have been closed since last year,” the statement read. “State and local officials are on the front lines of ensuring citizens are taken care of and we have seen significant impacts every day the government has been shut down.”

The Montana Democratic Party also joined the debate, targeting Daines for what they described as his failure to pass a “clean” bill to open the government.

“Thirty-four days into his government shutdown, ‘Shutdown’ Steve Daines voted to kill a clean, bipartisan bill to reopen the government,” said Monica Lindeen, the party’s executive director. “Montana families are struggling under the burden of this pointless shutdown, and it’s long past time Daines did his job and reopened the government.”

In a statement, Daines said he voted for a proposal the president would actually sign, adding that Democrats must come to the table, compromise and vote on a bill that has a chance of earning Trump’s signature.

“Today I voted to secure our borders and open the government,” Daines said in a statement. “President Trump has offered a reasonable plan that Senate Democrats have supported in the past. Congress must come together to reopen government, while securing our borders at the same time. The Democrats alternative presented today simply kicks the can down the road with no resolution in sight.”