Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he expects a key vote will take place Thursday on legislation to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall and reopen shuttered parts of the government.
In a Senate floor speech, the Kentucky Republican called the proposal outlined by the President over the weekend for $5.7 billion in wall funding in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants a “bold, comprehensive offer” and promised the Senate would take it up this week.
But the proposal is not expected to end the shutdown stalemate on Capitol Hill. Democrats swiftly rejected the offer over the weekend and have remained firm in refusing to agree to any new money for a wall.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, reiterated opposition in a floor speech of his own on Tuesday, calling the President’s immigration offer a “proposal that’s going nowhere fast.”
McConnell would not answer additional questions from reporters such as whether he thinks he can get seven Democrats to vote with Republicans for the legislation, and whether he is meeting with any Democrats to try to get them on board.
It is likely that the vote in the Senate on the President’s proposal will not get the required 60 votes — Republicans control 53 seats — to move forward.
“It’s a strong proposal,” McConnell said in his floor speech. “It’s the only thing on the table and later this week we’ll vote on it.”
Senate Republicans have released a bill in line with what the President proposed over the weekend. It also includes appropriations bills to end the shutdown along with $12.7 billion in disaster relief funding and other measures.
Yet the vast majority of Democrats are expected to oppose it and continue to push instead for the government to be reopened without funding for the border wall.
A Senate Democratic aide, who asked not to be identified, predicted it would not get the 60 votes it needs to advance.
“POTUS proposal can’t get 60 votes in Senate and was never designed to,” the aide said. “But the White House knew that already.”
Separately, a GOP leadership aide said there will be no regular weekly leadership meetings and conference lunches this week in the Senate prior to Thursday when most members are expected to return for the immigration proposal vote.
Later on Tuesday, McConnell objected to an effort by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia to move forward with a House-passed bill to reopen the Department of Homeland Security, preventing it from moving ahead.
House Democrats have spent the first few weeks of their new majority passing a variety of spending bills to reopen the government without wall money, but those proposals have been dead on arrival in the Senate, with McConnell refusing to take them up, and have faced White House veto threats.