WASHINGTON (CN) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday set up a vote for later in the week on a Republican proposal to end the ongoing partial government shutdown, which is now in its 32nd day.
McConnell’s move means the Senate will take its first votes on a funding package aimed at ending the shutdown on Thursday afternoon. In addition to funding the government, the bill would provide $5.7 billion for President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall, while also giving temporary protections for people in the country illegally who were brought to the United States as children.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, had previously objected to bringing up other funding measures that would have ended the shutdown, saying the Senate would not agree to a measure Trump would not sign.
“The opportunity to end all of this is staring us in the face,” McConnell said in a floor speech Tuesday. “That’s why we will vote on this legislation on the Senate floor this week. All that needs to happen is Democrats agree it is time to put the country ahead of politics, take ‘yes’ for an answer and vote to put this standoff behind us.”
President Trump, who has refused to sign any agreement to reopen the government that does not include money for a border wall, put forward the proposal on Saturday as an offer to end the shutdown. Democrats have been quick to signal their displeasure with the compromise effort.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday called the offering “one-sided, harshly partisan” and made “in bad faith,” specifically pointing to a provision in the proposal that requires young people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for asylum at Central American embassies, rather than at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Republicans have said this measure would ease the flow of minors to the southern border, but Democrats and immigration advocates say it would leave people in the dangerous situations they are attempting to flee.
“The asylum changes are a poison pill if there ever was one and show the lack of good faith that the president, and now Leader McConnell, have in trying to make a proposal,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
The ongoing shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, resulting in hundreds of thousands of federal employees missing paychecks and working without pay.
Another casualty of the shutdown is the State of the Union address, which was scheduled for Jan. 29 before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Trump last week he could not give the address in the House chamber so long as the government remained shuttered.
But the Washington Post on Tuesday reported Trump is forging ahead with plans for the address, preparing two versions to be delivered either on Capitol Hill or “somewhere else in the country.” A White House staffer reportedly asked for a walk-through for the address on Monday, during the Martin Luther King Jr., Day holiday.