GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN IN 2 WEEKS!
Congress approved a two-week extension on Thursday for a key government funding deadline, setting up a showdown over spending just days before Christmas that could trigger a partial government shutdown later this month.
The stopgap spending measure, which now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature, pushes the deadline when funding will expire for several government agencies from December 7 to December 21. If Trump signs the measure, lawmakers will have averted a partial shutdown this week, but the threat of a potential shutdown still looms on the horizon.
Lawmakers came together to pass the funding extension after the death of George H.W. Bush. On Capitol Hill, much of the week has been dedicated to paying tribute to the former President who was lying in state in the US Capitol rotunda for several days.
Congressional leaders in both parties have indicated they do not want a partial shutdown, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over Trump’s demand for $5 billion for his long-promised border wall and the issue continues to be the key sticking point in negotiations.
“It’s getting late. It’s not five minutes to midnight yet but it’s getting towards the end of the month,” Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said Wednesday.
Asked how two additional weeks would help lawmakers reach an agreement over wall funding, Shelby replied, “I think you could do it in 15 minutes if you could reach some sort of resolution to it. Will they, is a good question. … I don’t know if they will.”
A key question now is whether the President and congressional Democratic leaders can strike a deal.
Senate Republicans have floated the possibility of attempting to allocate $5 billion over the next two years. But any spending bill would need at least some Democratic votes to pass.
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will huddle with Trump on Tuesday to discuss spending, a person familiar with the meeting said. Both Democratic leaders have resisted Trump’s calls for money for a border barrier.
Senate Democrats have said they would approve $1.6 billion for border security, to fund fencing but not a physical wall. House Democrats, who will have control of the chamber in January, are more skeptical.
On Thursday, Pelosi told reporters that she would not exchange border wall funding for legal protections for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — a legislative priority for House Democrats. She called them “two different subjects.” Pelosi wants to fund DHS for a year rather than pass a short-term measure that would only delay the wall fight temporarily.
Before the 2018 election, in which the Democrats won the House, the party’s leaders appeared more open to that compromise.
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