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Battle over wall risks shutdown as lawmakers scramble to fund government 

click to enlarge A Customs and Border Protection agent on a bridge between Mexico and Hidalgo, Texas, Nov. 9, 2018. Republican lawmakers, facing the impending end of one-party control of Congress in January, will try again to fund President Donald Trump’s wall on the southern border, risking a possible, partial government shutdown in the face of newly empowered Democratic opposition in the House. - TAMIR KALIFA/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times
  • A Customs and Border Protection agent on a bridge between Mexico and Hidalgo, Texas, Nov. 9, 2018. Republican lawmakers, facing the impending end of one-party control of Congress in January, will try again to fund President Donald Trump’s wall on the southern border, risking a possible, partial government shutdown in the face of newly empowered Democratic opposition in the House.

BY Emily Cochrane
New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers, facing the impending end of one-party control of Congress in January, will try again to fund President Donald Trump’s wall on the southern border, risking a possible, partial government shutdown in the face of newly empowered Democratic opposition in the House.

For their part, Democrats hope to attach legislation that would protect the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to one of seven remaining appropriations bills. The bills, which have a Dec. 7 deadline, would fund a number of federal agencies.

Lawmakers and aides in both chambers say they do not want to pass a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open. But Trump’s threat to veto any bill that does not have billions of dollars in funding for the border wall has raised the possibility of a partial government shutdown next month.

With a House majority coming, Democrats have little incentive to give the president what he wants unless Republicans are willing to offer significant concessions.

A funding lapse after Dec. 7 would, among other things, shutter some national parks and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and disrupt the Commerce Department as it struggles to assemble the 2020 census.

Aides familiar with the negotiation process said lawmakers might group the seven spending bills into one package, effectively tying the wall provision to other government efforts more popular with Democrats. Democrats insist that while they are willing to fund some measures to increase border security, billions of dollars for a concrete border wall is a nonstarter.

“The Democrats and Republicans came to the $1.6 billion agreement,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “It is tough security. It is sensors. It is drones. It is roads. It is help at the border in a far more effective way than the wall.”

The House has allocated $5 billion for border security and wall funding. The Senate has not gone along. With new lawmakers descending on Washington and wrangling intensifying ahead of Democratic leadership elections, multiple aides said it was unlikely a compromise could emerge before the Thanksgiving break.

But more hard-line members, including Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., have indicated they intend to lobby for funding for the wall.

“We need to have a real conservative approach to fulfilling that campaign promise and making sure that our national security interests at the border are covered,” Meadows said Wednesday.
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