Lee, Romney split on bills aimed at ending government shutdown


WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) – The United States Senate rejected two bills aimed at ending the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history.

Senators shot down competing Republican and Democratic plans, one with funding to build the additional wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico and one without.

The Senate first rejected a GOP plan reopening the government through September and giving President Donald Trump the $5.7 billion he’s demanded for building segments of that wall. The 50-47 vote fell 10 shy of the 60 votes needed to succeed.

Minutes later, senators voted 52-44 for a Democratic alternative that sought to open closed agencies through Feb. 8 with no money for the wall. That was eight votes short. The goal of the bill was to give lawmakers time to negotiate a more permanent solution while allowing some 800,000 government workers to receive a paycheck.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against both proposals Thursday. He released a statement explaining why he rejected the White House plan.

“If this had been a vote to begin debate on a deal to end the shutdown, I would have happily voted yes,” Sen. Lee said. “But this was a vote to end debate on a bill that I believe is fundamentally flawed. In fact, after specifically asking for assurances that we would be allowed to offer amendments, no assurances were given. This bill as is simply does not do enough to reform our immigration system or address the crisis at our southern border,” said Lee.

Senator Mitt Romney voted in favor of both proposals to reopen the government. He said he’s heard “loud and clear” from the people of Utah about ending the shutdown and securing the border.

“I voted in favor of the President’s proposed compromise, which would have achieved both goals. When that measure failed, I also voted for an alternative proposal that would open the government and give the Democrats two weeks to put or shut up-come to the table and agree to a final deal on border security and enforcement. The proposal also failed, and now it is up to the Republican and Democratic leadership to come together and negotiate a final deal that funds border security.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...