On Wednesday, I surveyed the offices of 23 Republican senators who frequently or occasionally cross party lines to see how they planned to vote. Of those that responded—about one-third—all indicated that they planned to back Trump’s proposal, but none definitively came out against the Democratic alternative. A spokeswoman for Senator Lisa Murkowski, for example, said the Alaska Republican supports the White House plan, but added, “She is planning to support anything that allows for a process for us to reopen the government as soon as possible, while addressing border security.” Representatives for Senators Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Mike Enzi of Wyoming said they were each studying the Democratic proposal.
That sampling is not an indication of momentum—none explicitly endorsed the second plan either. But it suggests that Republicans are keeping their options open, raising the possibility that once the Trump plan fails, they could vote with Democrats to temporarily end the shutdown. Republican senators have harbored thinly veiled frustration with the president for the past month, ever since his abrupt decision to oppose a spending bill they voted out of the chamber, precipitating the shutdown’s start. They welcomed Trump’s recent bid to jump-start negotiations by offering limited protections for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which at least gave Republicans an offer to rally around.