- Funding for the government runs out December 21, with money for President Donald Trump’s border wall the primary focus of negotiations.
- Trump has threatened to shut down the government if he does not receive enough money for the wall.
- Democrats take back control of the House on January 3, which could upend the funding fight and leave Trump without his border wall if the shutdown extends into the new year.
WASHINGTON – The United States government is set to end the year the way it began: with the prospect of a government shutdown slowly approaching and keeping everyone in Washington on their toes.
Congress has already funded 5 of the 12 spending bills, but loose ends need to be tied up to avert yet another partial shutdown during the Trump presidency.
The most hot-button area in need of funding is for the Department of Homeland Security. The fight centres on the haggling over a few billion dollars Republicans and President Donald Trump desperately want to fund the construction of his long-desired wall along the 2,000-mile border between the US and Mexico.
Led by Trump, Republicans want to allocate $US5 billion for the border wall. Democratic leaders have offered $US1.3 billion for border security purposes, but it is not enough for Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to veto spending bills that do not include sufficient funding for his most famous campaign promise.
“If we close down the country, I will take it because we’re closing it down for border security, and I think I’d do that every single time,” Trump said at a bill signing ceremony on Tuesday.
The Democrats’ offer was seemingly tossed out during a televised meeting in which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer engaged Trump on the issue and shouted over one another.
“You guys got to see on full display where the president stands on this issue in the Oval Office,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said of the boisterous meeting.
The threats to shut down the government over border-wall funding have Republicans on edge. Unlike past threats on which Trump has ultimately relented, there is not an immediate election on the horizon and the new Democratic House majority means it is now or never for the wall.
Trump also sent Stephen Miller, the White House’s most vocal immigration hawk, on the Sunday talk show circuit to serve as his pit bull, signalling where their approach is this time around.
The new crop of House Democrats could inherit a shutdown
Another prospect that aides on Capitol Hill are bracing for is that a drawn-out, partial government shutdown could extend beyond the December 21 deadline and into the new year when Democrats take back control of the House.
Such a scenario would doom Trump’s chances of getting his wall funding, as the presumptive next speaker of the House – Nancy Pelosi – has vowed to not fund what she called a “immoral, ineffective, expensive” venture.
Pelosi has also expressed support for a yearlong continuing resolution for DHS, which could punt any fights for some time.
“I think what we can do that makes sense is to pass the six bills where the members of the Appropriations Committee have come to terms – you’ve heard me say it over and over – leave them to their own devices,” Pelosi said earlier this month. “The appropriators can come to a good conclusion and then have a CR only for homeland security as we go forward. And that’s pretty much where our position is right now.”
Still, Congress has pushed through solutions to fund the government in the dead of night before. But this time there is a lot more uncertainty on Capitol Hill.
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