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Senate set to vote this week on 2 competing plans to end shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders on Tuesday agreed to vote this week on two competing proposals to end the government shutdown, including President Donald  Trump’s plan to have Congress pay for the long-stalled wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s likely to fail.

The other measure, from Democrats, also seems unlikely to pass. It would temporarily reopen the government through Feb. 8 while talks on border security continue.

Either package would need to hit the 60-vote threshold to advance on Thursday, a tall order in the narrowly divided Senate where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority. Trump’s wall is the key sticking point in his standoff with Democrats that has led to a partial government shutdown.

But the agreement reached to at least start voting sets the stage for senators to give serious thought to the options as the shutdown enters a second month, and some 800,000 federal workers face another Friday without paychecks.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer predicted Trump’s proposal “will be roundly defeated.” But the Democratic bill, which already passed in the House, “could break us out of the morass we are in,” he said.

“If you’re looking for a way to open up the government, this is the way,” the New York senator said.

Republicans, though, downplayed the stopgap measure and said it would also fail.

Senate Republicans pressed ahead Tuesday with Trump’s plan to reopen the government, finance his wall and provide some deportation protections for “Dreamer” immigrants.

Convening the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump’s 1,300-page spending measure — including $5.7 billion to fund the wall — “would break through this stalemate and would reopen government swiftly and deliver on a number of other policy priorities.”

Democrats, though, panned Trump’s proposal and said the immigrant protections are inadequate — only offering temporary deportation relief that Trump helped cause by announcing an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting young “Dreamer” immigrants.

“Open the government. Let’s talk,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The (Dreamers) had their protections. …. The president took it away, and now he is saying, ‘I’ll give you this back temporarily if you give me a wall permanently.”’

“It’s not a compromise,” added Schumer. “It’s more hostage-taking.”

Trump is offering three years of protection against deportation for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. He had tried to end the Obama-era program in 2017, though the issue remains before the courts.