The GOP-controlled Congress on Wednesday severely undermined President Donald Trump’s drive for a border wall, embracing a short-term spending bill that might hold the federal government open however deny any new cash for his long-promised wall alongside the U.S.-Mexico border.
The settlement introduced by Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, would fund the federal authorities by way of Feb. eight, averting a partial shutdown scheduled to take impact on the finish of Friday absent motion by Congress and Trump.
However the spending bill wouldn’t embrace any of the $5 billion Trump is demanding for his wall, and it will punt the subsequent spherical of border wall selections into the brand new yr, when a brand new Democratic majority within the Home could have the facility to cease wall funding from going via Congress.
With out Congress, Trump’s solely remaining choices for fulfilling his wall promise would depend on a collection of legally doubtful methods that face opposition from newly empowered Democrats at each flip.
The Senate handed the laws by voice vote late Wednesday, and the Home was anticipated to take it up on Thursday. Congressional leaders stated they anticipated Trump to signal it earlier than the shutdown deadline.
However the mercurial president – who only a week in the past declared he can be “proud” to shut down the federal government over the wall funding – didn’t publicly announce his help for the deal, throwing the result into query as Trump’s conservative allies on and off Capitol Hill mounted a livid lobbying marketing campaign to persuade the president to reject the deal.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, a pacesetter of the conservative Freedom Caucus who talks commonly with Trump, predicted “major damage” to the president politically if he indicators the funding bill and stated “the base will just go crazy” over Trump’s failure to ship on his border wall guarantees. “I just think that the vast majority of the Trump voters believe that he campaigned on building the wall,” Meadows stated, urging the president to veto the laws.
Meadows and different members of the Freedom Caucus took turns talking on the Home flooring Wednesday night to rail towards the deal. Conservative retailers, together with Breitbart and the Drudge Report, additionally attacked the deal, accusing Trump of caving on the core promise of his marketing campaign.
Trump continued to insist Wednesday that the wall can be constructed even with out congressional involvement, writing on Twitter that the army would construct the barrier. He added: “One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!”
However the legality of that strategy is questionable, and Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-New York, stated Democrats would by no means permit it to occur.
Trump promised throughout his marketing campaign for the presidency that Mexico would pay for the wall. Now, with Mexico’s authorities having paid nothing and the president asking taxpayers for $5 billion, he says Mexico is paying for it not directly by way of a renegotiated North America free commerce deal. Congress has but to approve the commerce pact, and it’s not clear how it will end in Mexico paying for the wall.
Regardless of Trump’s insistence on constructing the border wall, many congressional Republicans by no means seen the plan as lifelike, and a few by no means absolutely supported it. The president’s greatest probability to get main funding for the wall got here and went a yr in the past, when negotiations with Democrats involving citizenship for some undocumented immigrants in change for wall funds fell aside amid acrimony.
Since then, Trump has periodically demanded wall funding and threatened to shut down the federal government to get it – a struggle GOP leaders finally persuaded him to postpone till after the midterm elections. However there have been by no means the votes within the narrowly divided Senate for Trump and Republicans to win the struggle as soon as the second arrived, a actuality that McConnell and GOP leaders acknowledged Wednesday after Democrats rejected a remaining supply to spend $1.6 billion on border safety and a further $1 billion on different immigration priorities aside from the wall.
“Faced with this intransigence – with Democrats’ failure to take our borders seriously – Republicans will continue to fulfill our duty to govern,” McConnell stated on the Senate flooring Wednesday morning. “That’s why we will soon take up a simple measure that will continue government funding into February: so we can continue this vital debate after the new Congress has convened.”
Schumer, talking on the ground shortly thereafter, stated: “I’m glad the leader thinks the government should not shut down over the president’s demands for a wall, and Democrats will support this CR.” CR stands for “continuing resolution,” a short-term measure that extends authorities funding at present ranges.
Not lengthy after that, Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi, D-California, introduced that Home Democrats, too, would help the measure, boosting its probabilities of passing the Home even when conservative Republicans defect.
In an indication that the result within the Home was not solely assured, although, McConnell introduced after Wednesday night time’s vote that the Senate can be again in session Thursday as a result of “We have to see what the House does with what we just sent them.”
And having discovered to by no means predict exactly what Trump will do, McConnell gave a guarded response when requested after assembly with Vice President Mike Pence whether or not the president would signal the laws and maintain the federal government open. “Hope so,” he stated.
Congressional Republicans argued that they, and Trump, had little selection however to retreat on the wall.
“Ultimately, we don’t have the votes to pass it. The Democrats in the Senate won’t support it,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, stated. “I’m not retreating, I want us to do it. But ultimately in this republic and according to the rules of the Senate, you need 60 votes to do it.”
Rubio stated that left “two choices”: “And that is the choice between shutting down the government or sticking to your guns on an issue. And I have yet – I’ve only been here seven years, I guess – but I have yet to see anyone win a shutdown.”
Some within the GOP have been downcast Wednesday on the prospect of ending two years of unified Republican management of Washington with a short-term spending bill that accomplishes the naked minimal on Congress’ most elementary duty – funding the federal authorities. After two temporary authorities shutdowns early within the yr, Congress had shaken off its finances dysfunction and made progress advancing a collection of must-pass spending payments, however that floor to a halt in current months amid the standoff over the wall.
“I think we ought to stay here and fight it out and get border security done,” stated Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia. “It’s irresponsible, that at the end of our first quarter we can’t fund the government. This is 25 percent of the discretionary budget.”
Congress earlier this yr funded a lot of the federal authorities, together with the Pentagon, by way of subsequent September. However the Homeland Safety Division, which is chargeable for border safety, and the Justice, Inside, Housing, State and Agriculture departments have been working on a short-term spending bill that expires at midnight Friday.
If that have been to occur, lots of of hundreds of federal staff can be despatched house with out pay simply earlier than Christmas. Others who’re deemed important, comparable to Border Patrol brokers, can be pressured to work however wouldn’t receives a commission till after the shutdown was resolved.
On the similar time, passage of a year-end “continuing resolution” would go away numerous congressional priorities undone, since GOP leaders need to hold the laws freed from the quite a few extraneous points that may get hooked up to must-pass spending payments.
One in every of these, associated to an inventory of about 120 lands payments necessary to a bipartisan group of Western senators, emerged as a last-minute snag Wednesday afternoon that held up swift Senate passage of the spending bill, as lawmakers maneuvered unsuccessfully to connect it to the laws.
That is the kind of noncontroversial laws that by no means will get full flooring debate within the Senate, and as an alternative waits to be hooked up a must-pass bill. However leaders of the Appropriations Committee have been loath to begin including gadgets to what’s an in any other case easy bill holding authorities absolutely operating, fearful that it will open the door to extra senators who would maintain the bill hostage for pet tasks.
Throughout a tv look earlier than McConnell’s announcement Wednesday morning, White Home counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted Trump had not softened his stance on the wall however stated the White Home needed to see what Congress would produce.
“The president has said he’s willing to do what he has to do to get that border security, including a government shutdown,” she stated on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “Now we’ll see what the Senate and the House, what they come together and present to the president. We don’t know what’s going to make it to his desk.”
She stated that whereas Congress had labored efficiently with Trump on different points, lawmakers appeared to be “walking away” on border safety.
Nonetheless, numerous Republicans held out hope of returning to the immigration situation subsequent yr, maybe to make one other run at the kind of complete immigration overhaul that has eluded Congress for years. A number of GOP lawmakers famous that the short-term funding bill would run out shortly after Trump delivers his State of the Union tackle, which might function a great alternative for him to make the case for his immigration priorities and exert new strain on congressional Democrats.
“Hopefully, by laying out some facts, we can put pressure on Democrats to actually come to the table and help us secure the border and fix our horribly broken legal immigration system,” stated Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.
However this time round, Johnson stated of Trump, “he didn’t win the negotiation, that’s for sure.”
Washington Publish writers John Wagner, Damian Paletta and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.