Senate leaders have agreed to votes on rival proposals for reopening the government for the first time since the shutdown began last month, though it’s not clear either measure can pass.
Lawmakers will hold separate votes on President Donald Trump’s plan that includes $5.7 billion for border wall funding as well as a Democratic proposal that would reopen agencies through Feb. 8.
The agreement to proceed with votes marks the first attempt at finding a path out of the shutdown, but Trump has threatened to veto any measure that doesn’t fully fund his wall. Democrats likely have the votes to block Trump’s bill and the Democratic proposal would need to win support of 13 Republicans along with every Democrat.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said the deal allows both sides to offer alternatives and there is no change in Trump’s opposition to a short-term reopening of the government as proposed by Democrats.
The plan to proceed with the votes was announced Tuesday on the Senate floor by McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Along with the wall funding, Trump’s proposal is running into opposition from Democrats over new asylum limits for Central American minors.
The Democratic proposal has already been approved in the House, and some Senate Republicans, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have been pressing for action that would end the shutdown now in its 32nd day, at least temporarily. But the White House has said Trump wouldn’t sign the legislation.
The Trump bill includes a provision to ban nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras who are under 18 years old from eligibility for asylum unless they submit applications at a processing center in Central America. That means they cannot apply in the U.S. if they flee their home countries due to gang violence, as many have done.
As an olive branch to Democrats, the bill also includes provisional three-year work permits for young undocumented people currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and those who have Temporary Protected Status. Trump has sought to end both programs.
However, the new legislation would only apply the DACA extension to those young immigrants currently receiving protections, and not those who might be eligible to qualify, as would be allowed under a previous bipartisan proposal called the Bridge Act. The new legislation would leave out hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
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