Government Shutdown Ends; Countdown Begins Again with Immigration Push in the Senate

The U.S. government shutdown ended last night with an agreement to fund the government for three weeks, until February 8th. As part of the negotiations to end the shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to let an immigration bill reach the Senate floor. However, the negotiated agreement did not contain specifics as to which bill would be heard, or addressed.

On Tuesday morning, Senator McConnell opened the Senate session by stating that “serious negotiations” can resume on issues including immigration. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) tweeted on Monday that it would be a breach of trust if the agreement to vote on a bill was not honored.

With a 16-day countdown and no single immigration reform bill emerging as a bipartisan favorite, it seems unlikely that a comprehensive bill will result from this compromise. However, if any immigration legislation makes it to a Senate vote by February 8th, that would be progress, if only slight. Lawmakers still have roughly a month and a half until March 5th, the date that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is currently set to end.

There are currently several immigration bills pending review by the full Senate and several more still at more preliminary stages, with bills from both sides of the aisle addressing the issues of DACA, border security, Temporary Protected Status, and the diversity visa lottery. Given this cornucopia of legislation, there remains significant uncertainty as to what specifics the Senate would vote on. Even if a compromise bill were to pass through the Senate with 60 votes, there is no guarantee that the bill would be taken up in the House of Representatives