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Republican Senators Defy Trump, Back Bill to End Gov’t Shutdown

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Three Republican senators have indicated they would support a bill that ends the US government shutdown without funding a border wall, in a sign patience is wearing thin within Donald Trump’s party as the dispute drags on.

Democrats were set to test GOP backing of the president on Wednesday by advancing a House bill to immediately reopen the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies that been partially closed since 22 December.

Hundreds of thousands of federal government workers have gone without pay for nearly three weeks as Trump refuses to budge on his demand of $5.6bn (£4.4bn) funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border, money that Democrats have flat-out refused to sign off.

On Tuesday Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski became the latest Republican to signal a break with the president on the issue.

“We don't need to hold up these six other departments at the same time that we are resolving these very important security issues,” she told NBC News. "Let's bifurcate these issues, let's set them aside, let's allow for the operations, these governmental functions of these six other departments, allow for them to continue.”

Last week Maine Republican Susan Collins and Colorado’s Cory Gardner also said they would back action to end the shutdown. Both face potentially tough battles for re-election next year.

“I see 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,” Collins told reporters.

Gardner said: “I think we should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last congress, we should do it again today."

The Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is yet to budge from his hard line of refusing to bring up any government funding bill that does not have Trump's backing.

But other Senate Republicans have stressed their support for that stance will not last indefinitely.

"There's a time when that may run out," Georgia senator Johnny Isakson told CNN. "But right now that doesn't run out."

The growing GOP dissent over the issue comes as poll results showed the majority of Americans blame the president for the shutdown.

Fifty-one per cent of adults surveyed by Reuters and Ipsos thought the president was responsible – up four percentage points from a prior poll in late December.

Thirty-two per cent blamed Democrats in congress, while a further seven per cent blamed House Republicans.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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