Senate Set To Vote On 2 Proposals To End Government Shutdown

January 22, 2019 - 4:00 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) – Senate leaders reached an agreement on Tuesday to vote this week on two competing proposals to end the government shutdown, including President Donald Trump's plan to have Congress pay for the long-stalled wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that's likely to fail.

The other measure, from Democrats, also seems unlikely to pass. It would temporarily reopen the government through Feb. 8 while talks on border security continue.

Either package would need to hit the 60-vote threshold to advance on Thursday, a tall order in the narrowly divided Senate where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority. Trump's wall is the key sticking point in his standoff with Democrats that has led to a partial government shutdown.

Additionally, Politco's Melanie Zanona warned people not to get excited and that the agreement to vote didn't neccisarily mean an agreement has been reached to reopen the government. 

Meanwhile, the past month has been a challenging and stressful one for workers like Armando Vasquez.

“We don’t know when we’re going to be going back to work and we don’t know when we’re going to be getting paid again,” Vasquez told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Related: Day 32: Furloughed Federal Workers In New Jersey Turn To Food Banks

Vasquez works for the USDA and lives in Parsippany. His paychecks have stopped, but the bills keep coming.

“The mortgage payments are due, the electrical bills are due, and just not knowing when you’re going to get paid,” he said. “It’s a little bit inconvenient and it’s a little bit challenging and scary.”

Vasquez’s wife works, so he says they have enough savings for a cushion of three to four weeks.  

Senate Republicans late Monday unveiled the legislation, dubbed the "End The Shutdown And Secure The Border Act," but its passage this week is by no means certain.

In fact, when asked if that legislation had a chance to pass through Congress, Bloomberg’s Laura Litvan didn’t appear very hopeful.

“Unfortunately, you know, it's really not. It's running into real opposition from Democrats because as people begin to look at the details to the of this legislation, which was sent around late last night, they aren’t very satisfied with some of the things that were supposed to be kind of carrots to lure them in,” said Litvan.

Related: Bon Jovi’s New Jersey Restaurant To Feed Furloughed Federal Workers

As drafted, the bill is a nonstarter with Democrats but Sen. Mitch McConnell appears hopeful that is could be a starting point for negotiations since it embraces ideas such as help for so-called "Dreamer" immigrants.

All told, the bill would provide about $350 billion for nine Cabinet departments whose budgets are stalled. Other than the wall and immigration-related provisions, the core measure hews closely to a package of spending bills unveiled by House Democrats last week.

In exchange for $5.7 billion for Trump's wall, the legislation would extend temporary protections against deportation to around 700,000 immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Trump has tried dismantling the Obama-era program, which covers people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, but has been blocked by federal lawsuits.

CBS News White House correspondent Steven Portnoy told WCBS 880 that the bill has little to no chance.

“The bottom line is, it doesn’t have 60 votes, so it is dead on arrival in the Senate,” he said.

Republicans narrowly control the chamber, with a 53-47 majority.

“In the House, Democratic leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, say they have no intention of bringing this forward, because with respect to the DACA population, it provides no certainty, it merely extends the limbo that the DACA population is in,” Portnoy said.

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall that if federal employees aren’t getting paid then members of Congress also shouldn’t get paid until a deal is reached to end the shutdown.

“Congress should at this point lock itself in a room, bring in the president, make everybody leave their phones outside. No phones, no pay – you can’t come out of the room until you have a deal,” he said.

Related: Are Democrats Willing To Compromise On The Border?

Zeldin also said many Democrats have done a 180 on border security.  

“The thing that’s crazy about this wall debate is that just over a decade ago, in 2006, a lot of the Democratic members of Congress who are saying they oppose there being physical barriers at our border voted for physical barriers back then. It’s so obvious that they don’t want to give the president a win,” he said.

Zeldin said those are struggling right now because they didn’t receive a paycheck should take advantage of the services available like food banks, as well as credit unions and banks offering forgiveness for late payments.