Monday 22 July 2019

Jill Colvin: 'President's plan to end shutdown faces rocky road through Senate'

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to introduce a bill to end the partial government shutdown today closely mirroring the offer made by U.S. President Donald Trump to Democrats over the weekend, an offer that has already been rejected. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to introduce a bill to end the partial government shutdown today closely mirroring the offer made by U.S. President Donald Trump to Democrats over the weekend, an offer that has already been rejected. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jill Colvin in Washington

Donald Trump's proposal to reopen the US government, with immigration provisions Democrats have dismissed on the grounds they don't go far enough, is now headed for Senate action, its prospects far from certain.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to muscle through the 1,300-page spending measure, which includes $5.7bn (€5bn) to fund Mr Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border, the sticking point in the stand-off between Trump and Democrats that has led to a partial government shutdown now in its 32nd day.

Meanwhile, another missed pay cheque looms for hundreds of thousands of federal workers, and Democrats say they won't negotiate border funding while the shutdown continues. Senate Republicans late on Monday unveiled the legislation, dubbed the 'End The Shutdown And Secure The Border Act', but its passage this week is by no means certain.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber but need Democrats to reach the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to advance.

No Democrat has publicly expressed support for the proposal Trump announced over the weekend. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer's office reiterated that Democrats are unwilling to negotiate any border security funding until Trump reopens the government.

"Nothing has changed with the latest Republican offer," Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said. "President Trump and Senate Republicans are still saying: 'Support my plan or the government stays shut.' That isn't a compromise or a negotiation - it's simply more hostage-taking."

The Republican plan is a trade-off: Trump's border wall funding in exchange for temporary protection from deportation for some immigrants. To try to draw more bipartisan support, it adds $12.7bn in supplemental funding for regions hit by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. All told, it would provide about $350bn for nine Cabinet departments whose budgets are stalled.

Other than the wall and immigration-related provisions, the core measure hews closely to a package of spending bills unveiled by House Democrats last week. In exchange for $5.7bn for Trump's wall, the legislation would extend temporary protections against deportation to around 700,000 immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme. Trump has tried dismantling the Obama-era programme, which covers people who arrived in the US illegally as children, but has been blocked by federal lawsuits.

That figure is substantially lower than the 1.8 million people Trump proposed protecting a year ago in a plan that also included other immigration changes and $25bn to pay the full costs of building his wall. Trump's proposal was among several the Senate rejected last February.

The new Senate bill would also provide three more years of temporary protections against deportation to around 325,000 immigrants in the US who have fled countries racked by natural disasters or violent conflicts.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss