Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Thursday that the Senate should approve legislation to end the partial government shutdown, even if it excludes funding for President Trump’s border wall.
“I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open,” Gardner told reporters. “The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today.”
Hours after Gardner spoke, the newly Democratic House of Representatives passed a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels — with $1.3 billion set aside for border security — through Feb. 8. Five House Republicans joined all 234 Democrats to support the measure.
Trump has demanded $5.7 billion for the border barrier, which he promised during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Both sides’ intransigence over the issue has led to the current partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22 and which Trump has said will last “as long as it takes” to get the wall funding he wants.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has dismissed the House Democratic plan as a “total nonstarter” and a waste of time. But Gardner, who is expected to face a tough re-election fight in 2020, said the Senate should approve the amount of border security funding agreed to by Democrats.
“Congress needs to take further action on border security,” Gardner said, “but that work should be done when the government is fully open. … Let Democrats explain why they no longer support border security.”
Late Thursday, the House also approved a separate measure to fund the Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development departments and others closed by the partial shutdown through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is also up for re-election in 2020, appeared open to at least part of the Democrats’ proposal, but stopped short of a full endorsement.
“I’m not saying their whole plan is a valid plan,” she said, “but I see no reason why the bills that are ready to go and on which we’ve achieved an agreement should be held hostage to this debate over border security.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.