A bill put forward by the Republican party failed 50-47 (it needed 60 votes to succeed) and the Democratic bill also fell short with a 52-44 tally.
Six Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, crossed the floor of the Senate to support the Democratic bill in a bid to end the stalemate. The Democratic bill sought to reopen the government on 8 February.
A single Democrat supported the Republican bill, which again featured the key sticking point: funding of US$5.7 billion for President Trump to construct a border wall with Mexico. The Republican proposal also postponed deportation for ‘Dreamers’, US residents who had entered the country as undocumented migrants as children.
The Senate's first attempts to end the shutdown failed. No one knows what happens next https://t.co/ahBpX8Jzpx
— TIME (@TIME) January 24, 2019
Trump: “Without a wall it all doesn’t work”
Earlier on the day, Trump had suggested on Twitter that he would not budge on the issue of the wall. “Without a Wall there cannot be safety and security at the Border or for the U.S.A. BUILD THE WALL AND CRIME WILL FALL!,” he wrote.
“Nancy just said she “just doesn’t understand why?” Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work. Our Country has a chance to greatly reduce Crime, Human Trafficking, Gangs and Drugs. Should have been done for decades. We will not Cave!
Neither bill was expected to succeed and lawmakers from both sides seem to be out of ideas on how to reach a compromise. One group of bipartisan Senators has been having an ongoing dialogue, however, in an attempt to formulate legislation palatable to both sides. Maine Senator Susan Collins, a Republican who voted for both bills, confirmed she had met with this group “many times”.
Despite the evident gulf between the two sides, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained optimistic a deal would be reached. “I’m still optimistic in the goodness of the Republicans in the Senate, that they will care enough about these people that they will say, ‘Ok, we’ll give two weeks so that we can negotiate an evidence-based, cost-effective, value-respecting way to protect the American people with border security,’” she said. “That doesn’t seem like a big ask.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who was worth $2.9 billion in 2016, says he "[doesn't] really quite understand" why unpaid federal workers need to go to food banks during the government shutdown. https://t.co/tMLDRD2VA9
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 24, 2019
Wilbur Ross criticised as out of touch with struggling federal workers
Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, himself a billionaire, has been roundly criticised for saying he did not understand why furloughed federal workers are turning to food banks and suggesting they take out loans to make ends meet.
“The obligations that they would undertake — say borrowing from a bank or credit union — are in effect federally guaranteed,” he told CNBC on 24 January. “The 30 days of pay that people will be out — there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it,”
Nancy Pelosi asked: “Is this a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitude, or ‘call your father for money?’” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described Ross’ comments as “unreal”.
The social and economic impact of the shutdown has been enormous. The lack of federal workers on the job has led to sprawling lines at airports, unchecked vandalism at national parks and has postponed a number of potentially lucrative IPOs.
Header image credit: The White House