Congress steered clear of a shutdown Thursday, but the parties are no closer to resolving the battle over President Donald Trump’s wall as Democratic leaders prepare to meet with Trump next week.
Democrats are urging Republicans to sidestep a Christmastime fight over Trump’s wall and simply extend current border security funding — a proposal the GOP is already panning.
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday that she would not support Trump’s border wall even if he offered up a solution to shield from deportation the thousands of young immigrants brought here as children known as Dreamers.
Lawmakers, she argued, should simply punt on wall funding since both sides are in sharp disagreement.
“I think what we can do that makes sense is to pass the six bills where members of the Appropriations Committee has come to terms… and then have a [continuing resolution] only for Homeland Security as we go forward,” the California Democrat said.
Asked about Pelosi’s comments, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn dismissed the idea. Such an agreement would essentially re-authorize about $1.3 billion worth of funds for a massive fence at the border, which Republicans have dubbed Trump’s “wall.” Trump wants far more money than that.
“That’s unacceptable. I can’t imagine the president is willing to accept that,” the Texas Republican said Thursday.
The back and forth came shortly before the House voted by unanimous consent to pass a bill funding the federal government through Dec. 21 to give lawmakers more time to negotiate. The Senate cleared the measure later Thursday, and Trump was expected to sign it into law. Congress had until Friday to pass a stop-gap funding measure.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders and Trump rescheduled a critical meeting for next Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. The meeting, originally planned for this week, was postponed following the death of former President George H.W. Bush. But now that the ceremonies honoring the 41st president are over, top lawmakers are starting to once again turn their attention to the spending standoff.
Trump’s request for $5 billion worth of border wall funding stands at the center of the funding dispute. Democrats are resistant to funding Trump’s southern barrier without concessions on their own immigration priorities. But Republicans have not offered any so far.
Trump has said he’s willing to shut the government down without the money. And lawmakers on the Hill are bracing for a weekend shutdown right before Christmas.
Pelosi’s comments suggest she and Schumer are on the same page or nearly so. Some House Democrats have accused Schumer and Senate Democrats of undercutting them on wall negotiations by saying that $1.6 billion for southern border fencing is the starting point for negotiations. Yet most Senate Democrats have also vowed to go no higher than $1.6 billion as well while Trump seeks three times that.
House Democrats are pressuring Pelosi to push back and refuse to back even a penny. But Pelosi’s support for extending current border security funding would re-up more than $1 billion in funding for the border structure next year — though she, like Schumer, won’t call it a wall.
“You’re talking about a fence, you’re not talking about wall money,” Pelosi told reporters when asked about the matter. “Most of us… consider the wall immoral, ineffective, expensive and [the] president also promised Mexico would pay for it… They’re not going to pay for it.”