President Trump on Tuesday urged Republicans not to “cave” on border security and the partial government shutdown as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lines up a vote on legislation to fund a border wall and the government — and challenge Democrats in the process.
“Without a Wall our Country can never have Border or National Security. With a powerful Wall or Steel Barrier, Crime Rates (and Drugs) will go substantially down all over the U.S.,” Trump tweeted, before accusing Democrats of playing political games.
“The Dems know this but want to play political games. Must finally be done correctly. No Cave!”
Trump’s tweet comes on the 32nd day of the partial shutdown, and three days after his olive branch proposal to Democrats — consisting of wall funding and other border measures in exchange for protections for immigrants from unsafe countries and those brought to the country illegally as children — was swatted down before he even announced it.
At the core of the stalemate is Trump's demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding, something that Democrats have rejected outright. Instead, Democratic leaders have said they will back $1.3 billion for border security and have passed a series of measures in the Democratic-controlled House to re-open the government, bills that Republicans reject absent wall funding.
McConnell’s bill is modeled after Trump’s proposal and an effort to pressure Democrats. The bill will likely need 60 votes in the Senate, meaning McConnell needs at least seven Democrats to break off and join the 53 Republicans in the chamber.
But 53 Republican votes might not be a sure thing, either. Many conservatives commentators and immigration hardliners have blasted the protection extensions for immigrants as “amnesty” and a vote could fuel primary challengers for those who vote “aye.”
The Senate bill also provides $12.7 billion in supplemental disaster relief, as well as funding for the nine government departments that have not been funded since the partial shutdown began Dec. 22.
The bill marks the first real action in the Senate since Dec. 19, when McConnell moved an interim bill through the Senate. McConnell hopes to start debate on the measure as soon as possible, but it could be filibustered by Democrats — meaning the debate may not even begin until late Friday.
Should the bill get through the Senate, it could then put pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and allow Republicans to try and shift the blame for the shutdown from Trump to Pelosi if the House rejects the measure.
Signs were not good for support from Democratic leadership. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., office said again on Monday that Democrats were unwilling to negotiate any border security funding until Trump re-opens the government.
"Nothing has changed with the latest Republican offer," said Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman. "President Trump and Senate Republicans are still saying: 'Support my plan or the government stays shut.' That isn't a compromise or a negotiation — it's simply more hostage taking."
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.