The United States Senate leaders have agreed to vote on Thursday on two proposals that could end the month-long partial government shutdown, AFP reported. The US federal government had shut down partially on December 22 after Democrats refused to allocate $5.7 billion in funding sought by President Donald Trump to build a wall along the US border with Mexico.
A shutdown occurs when the US Congress fails to pass spending bills of the federal budget. The current shutdown blocks funds for nine of 15 cabinet-level departments and several agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, AP reported. Most of the workers have been sent home. A few have been asked to work without pay.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Democrat Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday they would bring the opposing bills to the floor later this week. The first bill, backed by the Republicans, proposes to meet Trump’s demand for funding. The second bill, backed by the Democrats, seeks to provide funds to the agencies that are currently closed to function up to February 8.
Each proposal requires 60 votes to advance. The US senate has 100 members – 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. As most Republicans have extended support to Trump’s demand that any legislation to reopen the government should include money for the wall – to which the Democrats are opposed – neither bill is expected to secure 60 votes, The New York Times reported.
Schumer said the short-term funding proposal for agencies could “break us out of the morass we are in”.
“People are saying: isn’t there a way out of this mess? Isn’t there a way to relieve the burden on the 800,000 federal workers not getting paid?” Schumer was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “Isn’t there a way to get government services open first and debate what we should do for border security later? Well, now there is a way.”
The Democrats need the support of at least 13 Republicans to get their bill passed. Even if that happens, the bill is unlikely to be signed by President Trump.
Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency to secure the money for the border wall. Constructing it was on Trump’s electoral agenda in the 2016 presidential campaign.