Senate Democrats have confirmed that they have the votes to block a House bill that would keep the government open through February 16. According to the latest numbers, thirty-eight Democratic Senators would vote no on the GOP-led bill. Three Republican Senators would also vote no.
Congress has been locked in fierce negotiations over the government’s budget bill for the past several weeks. While spending on defense is one of the major aspects being negotiated, the main sticking point is immigration. Democrats want to see a permanent solution to the DACA program included in any budget bill. Republicans will not support a permanent DACA solution without, what they consider, adequate funding for a border wall. If a spending bill is not passed by tomorrow night the government will shut down.
The latest gambit by Republican leadership is a short-term funding bill that keeps the government open until February 16. Democrats are opposing that bill because it does not contain a permanent solution for the DACA program. Republicans have expressed a desire to find a solution for DACA but have said the deadline for finding a solution that they’re operating on is March 5 when the program officially ends, not tomorrow.
But a few Republicans in the Senate are also opposing the Republican bill. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota said he’s opposing the bill because defense is not included, and also to send a message that governing by deadline is counterproductive. “It’s a matter of trying to make sure in the future the message is ‘let’s get our work done on time,'” Rounds said.
Rand Paul of Kentucky says the bill doesn’t do enough to curb spending. “I’ll be a ‘no’ vote because I’m not gonna vote to continue to put the country further into debt,” Paul.
Republicans had been optimistic about finding a solution before the deadline. But privately Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has conceded that at this point, a shut down may be possible. In an email to Republican colleagues, McConnell wrote, “We should all plan to stay through this weekend if Senate Democrats follow through and are willing to shut down the government…because they have yet to conclude a deal on DACA.”
“I know we’re all frustrated by the pace of negotiations on spending, but joining Democrats to shut down the government plays right into the Democrats hand,” McConnell wrote.