By Li Zhou
The Republican Senate won’t be considering them.
House Democrats just approved two bills to reopen the government — putting more pressure on Republicans and President Donald Trump to provide some kind of counteroffer.
These bills aren’t expected to go anywhere since the Republican-controlled Senate has already indicated it is not interested in taking them up without the president’s support, but they do call on the GOP to outline its own response.
Democrats — who have just officially retaken control of the House — passed the two measures in order to fund 25 percent of the government that is currently shut down after lawmakers failed to a pass a set of seven appropriations bills in late December.
The first of these measures is a package of six bills that funds parts of the government that are not particularly controversial, including the departments of Treasury, State, and Justice. This measure would keep these agencies funded through the 2019 fiscal year, which ends in September.
The second bill would provide short-term funding for the more contentious Department of Homeland Security through February 8, separating the conflict over the border wall from the other outstanding government funding bills and kicking this fight a bit further down the road. This stopgap bill would maintain funding for DHS at current levels, which includes $1.3 billion for border security — though not, notably, a wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that the upper chamber would not be considering either of these bills, since the President has signaled that he wouldn’t sign them.
While this means that the legislation is effectively dead in the water, these bills also dial up the pressure on Republicans as the partial government shutdown nears the two-week mark.
By passing this set of funding bills, Democrats have laid out their solution for the shutdown. As newly minted Speaker Nancy Pelosi has emphasized, there are no plans to give Trump any more money for his wall.
This move puts the onus on Republicans to come back with an offer of their own that Trump would be willing to sign. Up till now, $5 billion for border wall funding has been Trump’s position, though Vice President Mike Pence has previously proposed $2.5 billion — something the Democrats rejected.
Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders about the shutdown yet again on Friday. It remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to arrive at any deal to reopen the government.