The United States Senate on Thursday blocked rival plans by the Republican Party and the Democratic Party to end the month-long government shutdown. US President Donald Trump backed a measure that would have reopened the government and funded a wall along the Mexico border, but it could not garner the 60 votes necessary to pass in the Senate, AFP reported.
The shutdown began on December 22.
The Republican Party-backed bill garnered 50 votes to 47. Six Republican senators voted with the Democratic Party in favour of its plan to reopen the government without a border wall, Reuters reported. This included 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
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. The shutdown has left 8,00,000 federal workers without pay.
After the bills failed, Senators of both parties had private discussions about passing a stopgap, three-week funding bill for federal agencies to allow time for talks on border security.
Asked if he would support the plan discussed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, Trump said: “If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it. But we have to have a wall in this country.”
Trump has demanded $5.7 billion in funding for the wall. “We have no choice but to have a wall or a barrier, and if we don’t have that, it’s just not going to work,” he told the media on Thursday, Reuters reported. Trump and White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders demanded a large down payment for the wall, which the Democrats rejected.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the Democratic Party said Trump’s demand for a large down payment is “not a reasonable agreement”.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that funding for a border wall is necessary for the government to reopen. “All of us believe if we have three weeks with the government open that we could find a way forward to produce a bill that he would sign, that would be good for everybody in the country ,” he said on the Senate floor.