The Senate voted Thursday on one measure to reopen the government and fund the border wall but it failed to get the required 60 votes (subscription) pending further negotiations.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, expressed some hope for bipartisan negotiations aimed at resolving the longest government shutdown in American history, now in its second month.
“Is this the beginning of the end, or is it just the end of the beginning? We shall find out,” Sen. Shelby said.
A second Senate vote on a Democratic proposal to reopen the government and send back pay to hundreds of thousands of federal employees without having to settle the border-funding debate also failed to meet the 60-vote threshold.
House Democrats also were drafting a letter they planned to release by week’s end mapping out how they would support spending about $5 billion, and as much as $5.7 billion, on border security measures once the government reopens, lawmakers said.
“It’s clear what the president wants. It’s clear what we want. If you have a negotiation, both parties are going to put on the table what they want,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “By definition a successful negotiation gets to a place where both sides feel they got something, right?”
The nation’s leading business group urged quick action. “The simple reality is individuals and businesses depend in many ways on the federal government to facilitate commerce,” wrote J.D. Foster, U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist.
Sen. Shelby this week urged the Senate to back his proposal to reopen government while securing the border prior to votes on Republican and Democratic proposals dealing with the government shutdown.
Sen. Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor prior to a procedural vote on the End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act, an appropriations package.
It contained the remaining seven Fiscal Year 2019 bills, full funding of the President’s border security priorities, a disaster supplemental, and other bipartisan immigration reforms.
“The President has proposed a serious compromise to end this shutdown,” Sen. Shelby said. “It would not only fund the government and secure the border, but also provide immigration reforms the Democrats have long supported.”
Sen. Shelby’s measure includes border security, supporting all of the activities and resources identified in the letter from the Office of Management and Budget to Congress earlier this month, including physical barrier, law enforcement personnel, custody enhancements, humanitarian needs, and counter-narcotics and counter-weapons technology, and $5.7 billion for construction of a physical barrier along the highest priority locations of the Southwest border.
ADERHOLT MEETS WITH TRUMP, SUPPORTS TRADE BILL
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, on Thursday met with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss legislation that would give the president new authority to raise tariffs on imports in response to actions taken by others countries.
The US. Reciprocal Trade Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), has 18 cosponsors, including Aderholt.
“For far too long, foreign countries have levied significantly higher tariffs on the United States,” Aderholt said. “President Trump understands theses types of acs are unjust. The U.S. ReciprocalTrade Act would provide the President leverage to lower their unfair tariffs.”
In announcing the legislation, Duffy’s office released a spreadsheet that showed several examples of the tariffs levied by foreign countries on U.S. goods.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Byrne to Remain on Armed Services and Education and Labor Committees
Yellowhammer (Ross 1/23) U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, announced this week that he will continue to serve on the House Armed Services Committee and the Education and Labor Committee in the 116th Congress.
“Through his position on Armed Services, Byrne said he will be able to advocate for Alabama’s strong and diverse national security presence.
“In a statement, the congressman remarked, ‘Given Alabama’s many military installations and national defense programs, I am honored to again serve on the Armed Services Committee. Whether it is fighting for the Austal shipyard in Mobile or supporting missile defense programs critical to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, I look forward to continuing to be a steadfast advocate for a stronger, more capable U.S. military.’
“As a lifelong advocate for education reform, former chancellor of Alabama’s community college system and a labor-employment attorney by trade, the Education and Labor Committee is a natural fit for Byrne, his office said in a news release. In December, he helped lead the charge to pass major legislation that updated how sexual harassment claims are dealt with on Capitol Hill, including that members of Congress will now be personally responsible for claims against them instead of taxpayers footing the bill.
“Byrne outlined, ‘The Education and Labor Committee is really all about supporting the American workforce and Alabama’s economy. In order to have a strong economy, we need an education system that builds a skilled workforce and keeps decision making authority at the local and state level. We also need labor policies that benefit workers, not Big Labor bosses or Washington bureaucrats. On the Education and Labor Committee, I will fight every day for Alabama’s students, teachers, and workers.’
“Subcommittee assignments for the respective committees will be announced at a later date.”