US senate votes to reopen government for two weeks

The U.S. government shutdown that began three days ago is nearing an end after the U.S. Senate passed a stopgap budget bill, reopening all government functions until February 8.

The bill passed the Senate with an 81-18 margin. One independent and two Republicans were part of the largely Democratic opposition to the temporary spending package.

Federal employees will be paid for salary lost during the three-day shutdown (ABC News). 

The U.S. House of Representatives must vote on the bill before it becomes law. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Republican-led body will support the measure.

McConnell makes a promise

The short-term fix does not include language on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Disagreement over DACA figured into the policy deadlock that led to the shutdown.

Recipients of DACA legal protections are known as “Dreamers.” Democrats want protections for Dreamers, per an Obama-era executive order that prevented deportation of undocumented immigrants who illegally arrived in the United States as minors. President Trump ended DACA with an executive order of his own, leaving the roughly 700,000 undocumented immigrants under the program vulnerable for deportation.

Senate Democrats voted for today’s bill only after Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell made a verbal promise to hold a “free and open debate” on immigration and the future of Dreamers by next month (New York Times).

(Read More from WikiTribune on the shutdown and immigration politics.)

The fifteen Democrats who voted against the spending bill remain leery of a verbal pledge from McConnell, rather than a binding provision written into the bill. Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California tweeted her reluctance, calling the majority leader “someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word.”

Kamala Harris on Twitter

The Majority Leader’s comments fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill. I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word.

Uncertain future

ABC News reported President Donald Trump will sign the temporary spending bill once it reaches his desk.

The challenge now for Democrats, Republicans, and the White House is settling the immigration debate once the February 8 deadline is reached.

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration would “make a long-term deal on immigration, if and only if it is good for the country.”

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