As more senators fly back into Washington, D.C. to debate on a spending measure passed by the House of Representatives less than 24 hours ago, the clock is ticking towards the partial government shutdown that will begin after midnight tonight. If the upper chamber votes down the short-term spending measure that will extend the federal funding through the beginning of next year, it will trigger a highly-politicized, partisan, Christmas time debacle as Democrats are set to regain the majority in the House in just two weeks.
After days of threats from President Donald Trump of shutdown over the failure of Congress to give him $5 billion in border wall funding, the GOP majority in the House passed a bill containing $5.7 billion for money to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall late Thursday night.
Since there are not 60 votes in the Senate, President Trump was looking for Republican leaders in the Senate to invoke the “nuclear option” on passing the funding measure. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does not have the votes to change the rules and pass the bill with a simple majority.
According to The Hill, a spokesman for McConnell confirmed that there were not enough in the conference to pass funding for the border wall, or to change the rules to pass it with 51 “yes” votes. “Just this morning,” the spokesman added, “several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road.”
AP reports that Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a fierce Trump opponent, was opposed to the bill, saying he would resist wall money without broader immigration reforms, leaving the procedural dead on arrival.
At a Thursday night bill signing at the White House after the 217-185 House vote, President Trump said the government is “totally prepared for a very long shutdown.” Attempting to place blame on minority Democrats, he added that this may be the “only chance that we’ll ever have, in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security.”
Only a week ago, Trump insisted during an Oval Office meeting that he would take ownership of a partial government shutdown over the U.S.-Mexico border wall. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down,” he reiterated.
One scenario following a “no” vote on the bill is that the Senate may strip the border wall funds out of the package, and send it back to the House to further consideration. However, Reuters adds that the House adjourned just before 7:00 p.m. Friday, ensuring that the bill is now in the Senate’s hands.