What you need to know about the US Senate votes today to end the shutdown

Senate will take the first votes to end the shutdown that McConnell has allowed this session.
Senate will take the first votes to end the shutdown that McConnell has allowed this session.
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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The Republican-controlled Senate will vote for the first time since the new session of Congress started Jan. 3 on two measures to end the partial federal government shutdown, now in its 34th day.

If neither pass, some 800,000 workers will miss their second paycheck Friday (Jan. 25); some workers have already been forced to pawn valuables to pay their essential bills. Until today, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has refused to allow any votes on spending bills that could end the shutdown.

Republicans control 53 seats and Democrats 47; for either measure to pass they need 60 votes. The vote will start at 2:30 pm ET, and you can watch the proceedings on the Senate webcast. Here’s what’s being considered:

A Trump-backed anti-immigrant bill

The “End the Shutdown and Secure the Border Act” follows the president’s latest proposal to restart the government by offering temporary protections for about one million US residents his administration earlier tried to deport, including “dreamers,” or young adults brought to the US illegally as kids, and people who fled emergencies in their home countries.

But it also contains $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall, which Democrats have balked at, and new anti-immigrant measures that are so harsh that Democrats and some moderate Republicans are likely to reject it.

As Quartz wrote earlier, the provisions include capping the number of Central American minors who can receive asylum at 15,000 a year, removing some judicial protections for immigrants, and establishing onerous new requirements for “DACA” recipients, like forcing them to prove that they’ve never been in a gang. Many civil rights advocates and immigration experts believe the bill was written to fail.

A Continuing Resolution fix

The Senate will also vote on a “continuing resolution” that’s already passed the House, which would fund the US government through Feb. 6, and allow workers to collect back pay. The measure was introduced by Charles Schumer, the senate minority leader from New York, and doesn’t have White House support.

Still, some Republican senators have come out in favor of it already, including Cory Gardner of Colorado. Crossing Trump could open them up to the president’s ire, and to primary challenges from farther-right Republicans in upcoming elections.

If either measure does pass, there’s no guarantee Trump will sign either into law. He pledged to veto any bill that didn’t include wall funding, but support for the shutdown, and his poll numbers, have plummeted in recent days. If he vetoes either, both sides of Congress can override that veto with a two-thirds vote.