Se­nate Democrats warn of shutdown over wall fund­ing

Lead­ers want it left out of must-pass ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill.

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Niels Les­niewski

Se­nate Democrats WASH­ING­TON — are warn­ing Repub­li­cans of a shutdown show­down if Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­sists on in­clud­ing fund­ing for a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der in April’s gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill.

“We be­lieve it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to in­sist on the in­clu­sion of such fund­ing in a must-pass ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill that is needed for the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in con­trol of the Congress to avert a gov­ern­ment shutdown so early in Pres­i­dent Trump’s Ad­min­is­tra­tion,” the Se­nate Demo­cratic lead­er­ship team, along with Ap­pro­pri­a­tions rank­ing Demo­crat Pa­trick Leahy of Ver­mont, wrote in a let­ter to be cir­cu­lated Monday.

The let­ter was di­rected to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., and Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Chair­man Thad Cochran, R-Miss., but the clear au­di­ence was the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the new pres­i­dent him­self.

An early copy of the let­ter was ob­tained by CQ Roll Call.

Led by Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer of New York, the Democrats out­line fa­mil­iar con­cerns about the wall, which was a key cam­paign prom­ise of the pres­i­dent. That in­cludes the ar­gu­ment that the wall it­self may not de­ter il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion from Mex­ico.

They say there has been no plan for con­struc­tion or for how to get Mex­ico to fund the wall, as Trump had in­sisted through­out the cam­paign.

Aside from that ob­vi­ous flash point, the Demo­cratic sen­a­tors are con­tin­u­ing to hold the po­si­tion that they had un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama that any in­creases in spend­ing above ex­ist­ing caps for non-emer­gency spend­ing should be equally di­vided be­tween de­fense and non-de­fense ac­counts.

Se­nate ap­pro­pri­a­tors in both par­ties have al­ready grown wary of the prospects that dis­cre­tionary fund­ing past the end of April for most or all of the bud­get could be com­pleted through a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion rather than with an om­nibus spend­ing pack­age that re­flects the work of mem­bers of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

Democrats say they want all of the 12 re­main­ing spend­ing bills to be com­pleted, but even with their re­duced lever­age with Trump hav­ing re­placed Obama in the White House, they still in­di­cate op­po­si­tion to what they con­sider nox­ious pol­icy rid­ers.

“They should not in­clude poi­son pill rid­ers such as those that roll back pro­tec­tions for our vet­er­ans, en­vi­ron­ment, con­sumers, and work­ers and pro­hibit funds for crit­i­cal health­care ser­vices for women through Planned Par­ent­hood,” the Democrats wrote. “We strongly op­pose the in­clu­sion of such rid­ers in any of the must-pass ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills that fund the gov­ern­ment.”

Sens. Pa­trick Leahy (left), D-Vt., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote the let­ter to key GOP sen­a­tors.

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