Standoff over Trump border wall puts Congress in budget 'pickle'





By Richard Cowan and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A feud between President Donald Trump and Congress over funding his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall gives lawmakers only five days to find a compromise and avert a partial shutdown of some government agencies that could leave about a quarter of the federal workforce without paychecks at Christmastime.

Trump is demanding $5 billion as a down payment on construction of a huge wall that he argues is the only way to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing into the United States. Democrats, and some Republicans, argue there are less costly, more effective border controls.

The money Trump wants is only a small fraction of the roughly $450 billion Congress was earlier poised to approve, if not for the wall fight, to fund several agencies which will otherwise run out of money on Dec. 21.

Large swaths of the government already are funded through next September, including the U.S. military and agencies that operate public healthcare, education and veterans' programs.

Several Republican and Democratic congressional aides on Friday said there was no apparent progress being made toward resolving the stand-off, after Trump and leading congressional Democrats battled each other on Tuesday in the White House Oval Office in front of television cameras.

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security," Trump told House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Since then, a senior House Republican aide said his party was "in a pickle" over how to keep the government open.

The aide noted that Republicans, who still control both houses of Congress until Jan. 3, will not be able to muster the minimum 218 votes needed in the House to pass a funding bill if it contains Trump's demand for border wall money, which Democrats oppose.

If funds run out on Dec. 21, the NASA space program would potentially be unfunded, along with national parks, the U.S. diplomatic corps and agriculture programs.

Similarly, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security would be vulnerable to shutdowns, although "essential" employees, such as FBI agents, airport security screeners and border patrol agents, would still report to work.

Their paychecks, however, would not be issued until the shutdown ends and Congress would have to decide whether to award back pay for them as well as any furloughed workers.

A government in such disarray might not play well for Republicans over the holiday period, especially if Americans also view images for two weeks of Trump vacationing at his exclusive Florida beach-front mansion.

"After the president's comments earlier this week when he said he was going to own the shutdown, that sealed the deal for Democrats. There is absolutely no reason for them to cut a deal with this president," said Jim Manley, a political strategist and former Senate Democratic leadership aide.

With the clock ticking, the House is not even bothering to come to work until Wednesday night.

For now, Democrats are waiting for the White House to signal whether it will engage on legislation that would keep programs operating, but without money for Trump's wall.

If not, Manley predicted the government will limp along until Jan. 3, when Democrats take control of the House and Pelosi likely becomes the speaker and promptly advances funding, daring the Republican-led Senate to reject it.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Amanada Becker; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Leslie Adler)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump to Florida Rally Crowd: Democrats
Trump to Florida Rally Crowd: Democrats 'Want to Destroy You'

President Trump officially "kicked off" his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday night by telling a crowd of riled up supporters that Democrats are hell-bent on "destroying" them. "The Democrats don't care about Russia," the president growled. "They only care about their own political power. They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I have ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you!"Asserting that the Russia investigation was really about erasing the votes of his supporters, Trump claimed it was all an attempt to erase the "legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history...

Most Americans want Trump to comply with House subpoenas. But impeach him? Not so fast
Most Americans want Trump to comply with House subpoenas. But impeach him? Not so fast

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds those views aren't partisan.

Record number of African migrants coming to Mexican border
Record number of African migrants coming to Mexican border

Undaunted by a dangerous journey over thousands of miles, people fleeing economic hardship and human rights abuses in African countries are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers, surprising Border Patrol agents more accustomed to Spanish-speaking migrants. Officials in Texas and even Maine are scrambling to absorb the sharp increase in African migrants.

Trump says supporters could 'demand' he not leave office after two terms
Trump says supporters could 'demand' he not leave office after two terms

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution explicitly states that "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice."

New poll shows Trump trailing Biden and four other Democrats
New poll shows Trump trailing Biden and four other Democrats

A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam. A separate survey of battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favor Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year's elections. The Fox poll showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent among all registered voters nationwide, while Senator Bernie Sanders held nearly the same advantage over the president, at 49 percent to 40 percent.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.