Senate advances House border security bill to 'preserve maximum flexibility' for a last minute deal

As I write this a partial government shutdown is about 4 hours away. Fox News reports that the Senate, with some help from VP Pence, has cleared the way for a final vote in the Senate on the House funding bill which includes $5 billion for Trump’s border wall.


After keeping the vote open for five hours to secure enough support, the Senate finally advanced a House-approved spending bill with $5.7 billion for a border wall, after Vice President Mike Pence went to the Capitol to break a tie. That procedural hurdle paves the way for a final vote in the Senate.

If Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill by midnight, a partial government shutdown will go into effect.

With a 60-vote threshold, however, the House-passed package stands little chance of being endorsed on the Senate side.

Why bother advancing the legislation if you already know Democrats won’t help you get to 60 votes to override a veto? Cocaine Mitch says it’s to preserve maximum flexibility. From the Hill:

“The Senate has voted to proceed to legislation before us … in order to preserve maximum flexibility for productive conversations to continue between the White House and our Democratic colleagues,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor…

Still, by agreeing to take up the House bill, versus simply voting it down, it saves the Senate time if they are able to get an agreement and avoids forcing both sides through politically heated test votes.

“The understanding that has been reached … is we’re not voting on anything else in this chamber relative to this issue until a global agreement has been reached between the president and these two leaders and the leader of the House,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).


McConnell isn’t going to go nuclear on Democrats to pass this bill. That means Democrats can simply say no to the border wall funding and block it. They have Trump’s statement on video from last week saying he would own the shutdown if it happens. Trump reversed course on that today but the prior statement makes it easier for Democrats to play the blame game here. Still, there were some murmurs from both sides of the aisle that maybe they could agree on a lower funding level:

In the House, a number of conservative Republicans said they were open to supporting a lesser number, while other GOP voices said it would be wise for Republicans to accept the $1.6 billion.

“In my business, something’s better than nothing,” said Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas)…

Some Democratic leaders quickly vowed to support the $1.6 billion.

“I would,” said Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the Democratic whip.

So maybe there’s still a deal to be made here. If Democrats were willing to deal, they could get a lot they want at this moment, but for some this is a matter of principle and others seem to value the issue more than anything they could trade for it. We’ll know in the next few hours if Pence, Schumer, Kushner, and Mulvaney can come up with a compromise. Meanwhile, here’s President Trump’s promo for his “Steel Slat Barrier” aka the wall.


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