Border amendment fights push Senate closer to midnight shutdown deadline

The Senate is at a temporary stalemate on government funding with only hours until a shutdown deadline hits at midnight, as Republicans demand multiple amendment votes related to the border and immigration.

Several GOP senators said there are roughly 10-12 amendments that are still being discussed, leaving the House-passed government funding bill in limbo. All 100 senators must come to an agreement in order to vote on the massive spending package before the Friday-night deadline.

If Senate leadership fails to land an agreement on amendments, it’s likely a Republican would object to moving forward on Friday and kick the vote into the weekend, prompting at least a brief partial shutdown.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said “all 49 Republicans are ready and willing to vote now” but blamed holdups on Democrats denying two specific GOP amendment requests.

“They especially don’t want to vote on the Laken Riley amendment, which would insist on justice for the murder of Laken Riley and similarly situated illegal criminals, and they don’t want to vote on the amendment that would prohibit charter flights for illegal aliens into the country,” Cotton said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the situation is “still up in the air” and pointed to a number of amendment requests, including one to block the Biden administration from lifting sanctions on Iran.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said several of the amendments have “an immigration flavor.” Lee added that Republicans want some of their amendments requests to be slimmed down to a majority threshold, while others would have a 60-vote threshold.

Senators are slated to begin a two-week recess after they pass the funding legislation. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has a procedural motion to tee up a vote on the bill Sunday, if senators can’t reach an agreement sooner.

Even if Democratic leadership grants amendment votes, it’s unlikely any would be adopted. Changing the bill now would virtually guarantee a brief shutdown, since the House has already left town.

Jennifer Scholtes and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.