Colorado's U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday that Congress should end the 13-day-old partial government shutdown right away and work out differences over border security funding later.
"We should pass the bipartisan appropriations bills that includes money for border security while we continue to fight for more border security money," Gardner said in a statement. "Congress needs to take further action on border security, but that work should be done when the government is fully open.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who took control of that chamber Thursday, said Democrats stand ready to pass bipartisan legislation to fund the government, including money to keep the Department of Homeland Security open through Feb. 8 while talks continue over funding levels for border security.
The package proposed by House Democrats would fund other departments closed by the partial shutdown through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The government shuttered some operations on Dec. 22 after the House, then under GOP control, rejected a plan approved unanimously by the Senate that didn't meet President Trump's demands for $5 billion to pay for a southern border wall with Mexico.
Gardner was the first Republican senator to call for re-opening the government without a deal on the border wall, which Democrats have rejected as "an immorality" but Trump has called essential to protecting the country.
Later Thursday, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she sees "no reason why the bills that are ready to go and on which we've achieved an agreement should be held hostage to this debate over border security."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has rejected pleas by Democrats to bring a Democratic spending plan to the Senate floor, calling the notion a waste of time because it could face a filibuster by GOP members and an almost certain Trump veto.
Gardner and Collins top lists of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans up for election in 2020, since they're the only two incumbents who represent states won by Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Gardner's Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, said Trump is to blame if the shutdown continues.
"Keeping the government open should not depend on the president's ineffective and wasteful border wall," Bennet said in a statement. "There is a bipartisan consensus for funding border security that includes fencing, technology and agents — what experts agreed was the intelligent way to secure our border."
Trump has said the partial shutdown will last "as long as it takes" to get the money for a border wall.