Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.
Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Ben Cardin (Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, took to the Senate floor Thursday and asked for consent to vote on a series of bills that would end the partial government shutdown, which was in its 20th day.
One bill would have funded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, and a separate package would have funded the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.
McConnell objected to the Democratic request, saying he won’t agree to “pointless show votes” on bills Trump won’t sign.
“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said.
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said the bills were uncontroversial and were broadly supported by Republicans in the past. Cardin says the country is being “held hostage” by President Donald Trump as he seeks funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
In 2013, McConnell argued that shutdowns were antithetical to “conservative policy.”
“There will not be another government shutdown. You can count on that,” McConnell said in October 2013, at the end of a 16-day standoff over Obamacare. “Shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy. I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy.”
In November 2018, McConnell dismissed the idea that the government would shut down in December.
“No, we’re not going to do that,” he told reporters who asked about the president’s demand for border wall funding at the time.