Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.
Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, tried to get consent to bring up a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package that would fund the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.
But McConnell objected, arguing they would be “show votes” and saying that he and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) made an “explicit commitment” to avoid such votes.
“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said.
Under Senate rules, any senator can try to force a vote or pass a bill, but any one senator can block them.
The attempt by Democrats to pass the House bills comes as the partial government shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the federal government and is in its 20th day, is poised to break a record this weekend as the longest shutdown ever.
Talks between congressional leadership and President Trump appear to have derailed, with Trump walking out of a White House meeting on Wednesday.
McConnell has pledged that he will not bring up a bill that Trump doesn’t support.