Politics & Policy

Trump’s Plan to Fund Wall Fails, Two Republican Senators Defect

Migrants return to Mexico after attempting to illegally cross the border wall into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico, November 25, 2018. (Adrees Latif/REUTERS)

The Senate on Thursday voted down a Republican-backed spending bill that would have ended the longest-running government shutdown in history and allocated $5.7 billion for the construction of President Trump’s long-promised wall on the southern border.

The bill was defeated 50–47 in a vote that largely broke down along party lines, with Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Cotton of Arkansas the only Republicans to vote against and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia the only Democrat to vote in favor.

A Democrat-backed stop-gap spending bill that would have funded the government through February 8 without allocating any additional funds for border security also failed to pass the Senate Thursday afternoon.

The competing bills were widely considered test votes, as the White House and leaders of both parties were aware in advance that they lacked the bipartisan support required to clear the 60-vote threshold.

Mindful that Republicans lacked the seven Democratic votes needed to pass their spending bill, the White House reportedly viewed Thursday’s vote as an opportunity to gauge support for President Trump’s shutdown strategy within the Republican caucus. The Trump-backed bill granted a temporary, three-year asylum to immigrants brought to the country illegally as children in exchange for border-wall funding.

The Democrats’ stop-gap spending bill, which lacked border-wall funding, was voted down 52–44, receiving the support of six Republican senators: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah. Many of the Republican defectors have previously spoken out against the ongoing shutdown and urged the president to end it by passing a clean spending bill with no wall funding.

The government shutdown, which began December 22, is now poised to deprive some 800,000 federal workers of their second consecutive paycheck.

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