Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills that would reopen the federal government Thursday.
Democrats Maryland Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin along with dozens of colleagues tried to get consent to bring a bill to the floor that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for four weeks and another bill that would fund the other agencies until September.
McConnell rejected the attempt, calling the votes “absolutely pointless.”
"Political stunts are not going to get us anywhere,” he said.
McConnell has said that the Senate would not vote on any bill that President Donald Trump would not sign. The Senate unanimously passed a spending bill ahead of the shutdown but Trump refused to approve it, demanding more than $5 billion in funding for his proposed border wall.
"The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless -- absolutely pointless -- show votes back and forth across the aisle," McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Given that the previous spending bill was passed unanimously, the Senate could easily override the president’s veto, which requires a two-thirds vote.
The House passed a spending package last week that would reopen the government.
"Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans have a responsibility, not simply to wait for the President, but to intervene," Schumer told McConnell on the Senate floor.
Senate passes bill to pay back furloughed workers:
“Later Thursday, the Senate has again passed a bill to ensure furloughed federal workers will get back pay. McConnell said from the Senate floor that he talked to Trump a short time ago and Trump assured him he would sign the bill. The Senate then passed it on a voice vote,” CNN reported. “The Senate initially passed the bill around Christmas, but they had to do it again in the new Congress. This came to a head Thursday because Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia objected to the Senate adjourning for the weekend, a day before furloughed workers are going to miss their first pay checks.”
Democrats block all other legislation:
Senate Democrats have vowed not to approve any other bills until the government reopens.
“The standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the shutdown continued to play out in the chamber when Senate Democrats -- for the second time this week -- blocked an effort to bring up a Middle East policy bill in protest over the lack of action to end the shutdown. The vote was 53-43,” CNN reported.
McConnell blamed the stalled agenda on Democrats, claiming that the shutdown has been "prolonged by my Democratic colleagues' refusal to even come to the table."
Democrats have asked Trump to reopen the government and continue negotiations for the wall afterward, but Trump refused, arguing that the 800,000 federal workers on furlough or forced to work for free are his only leverage.