The U.S. Senate shifted slightly closer on Tuesday to resolving a month-long partial government shutdown, but there was no sign of relief anytime soon for 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid the groundwork for a vote on Thursday on a Democratic proposal to fund the government for three weeks, without attaching the $5.7 billion in U.S.-Mexico border wall funding demanded by President Donald Trump. The president has opposed similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
McConnell had said previously he would not consider a funding bill that Trump would refuse to sign.
The Senate leader said he would also bring up for a Thursday vote a proposal by Trump to end the shutdown that includes border wall funding and relief for “Dreamers,” people brought illegally to the United States as children. The plan was unlikely to pass in the Senate and had even less chance in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
Democrats have said they would not trade a temporary restoration of the immigrants’ protections from deportation in return for a permanent border wall they view as ineffective. In 2017, Trump moved to end the Dreamers’ protections, triggering a court battle.
But the Senate action could set the stage for the type of bipartisan negotiating that will be necessary to end a shutdown that began on Dec. 22. Americans have largely blamed Trump for the shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history.
Affected federal workers are struggling to make ends meet.
A Trump administration official said on Tuesday the president still intended to deliver his State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top U.S. Democrat, had recommended he delay it because of the shutdown.
The request seemed likely to set up another clash between Trump and Pelosi, days after Trump abruptly refused to let her use a U.S. military plane to go on an overseas trip hours before she was to depart.
Aides to Pelosi did not respond to requests for comment on whether Trump’s invitation to speak would stand.