Shut­down fight looms over bor­der wall

Democrats: GOP to blame for bud­get woes

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY S.A. MILLER AND SALLY PER­SONS

White House officials Mon­day re­fused to guar­an­tee that they would avoid a govern­ment shut­down at the end of the week, although they con­tin­ued to say they were confident a deal was in reach and Congress would pass a new spend­ing bill in time.

“I can’t guar­an­tee any­thing,” White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told reporters at the daily brief­ing when pressed to as­sure Amer­i­cans the govern­ment would avoid a sec­ond shut­down in four years.

All sides are rac­ing a Fri­day dead­line for pass­ing a new spend­ing bill, with con­gres­sional Democrats say­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions were go­ing fine un­til the White House got deeply in­volved last week.

Democrats first roiled talks ear­lier this month when they in­sisted money for a con­tro­ver­sial part of Oba­macare, which Repub­li­cans are chal­leng­ing in court, be funded as part of the stopgap spend­ing bill. Money has never been in­cluded for the funds be­fore now.

Pres­i­dent Trump then re­sponded by de­mand­ing that money for his pro­posed bor­der wall be in­cluded, spark­ing fever­ish push­back from Democrats who op­pose the wall.

“If the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­sists on fund­ing for a wall in this bill, it will en­dan­ger the prospects of a bill pass­ing and raise the prospects of a govern­ment shut­down,” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, told col­leagues in a floor speech Mon­day.

Democrats and some Repub­li­cans say Mr. Trump has yet to present them with a plan for his pro­posed wall, so it’s pre­ma­ture to fund it.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ready won ap­proval to shift $20 mil­lion in money around within Home­land Se­cu­rity to pay for pro­to­types of the wall to be built later this sum­mer. It’s not clear how much more money can or would be spent in this fis­cal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Capi­tol Hill Repub­li­cans have shown no ap­petite for a shut­down show­down with Democrats, and the White House says it doesn’t want one ei­ther. But Democrats say one could hap­pen, and are con­vinced the GOP will take the blame.

“I think it’s a much more re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity than peo­ple rec­og­nize,” Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­crat, told Fox Busi­ness.

Democrats say the GOP can­not pass a bill on its own, par­tic­u­larly with op­po­si­tion expected from its right wing. That means Demo­cratic votes will be re­quired — giv­ing them se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­at­ing lever­age.

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven T. Mnuchin vouched for progress Mon­day, say­ing he was encouraged by a meet­ing with Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney and other se­nior officials on the ne­go­ti­at­ing team.

“The pres­i­dent is work­ing hard to keep the govern­ment open and ad­dress­ing var­i­ous is­sues,” he said at the daily White House brief­ing.

Rep. Tom Cole, a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can from Ok­la­homa, down­played the pos­si­bil­ity of miss­ing the dead­line.

“No, I don’t think we’ll have a shut­down,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe” pro­gram. “We’re within strik­ing dis­tance of get­ting this done.”

Still, he said that get­ting a spend­ing bill over the 60-vote hur­dle in the nar­rowly di­vided Se­nate made it im­pos­si­ble for ei­ther side to score a 100-per­cent par­ti­san vic­tory — and that in­cluded the bor­der wall.

“We can come back and get this at an­other point,” he said, ad­ding that shut­ting down the govern­ment for fund­ing the wall isn’t worth it.

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