Short-term spending bill passed by Congress
Congress sent President Donald Trump a short-term spending bill Thursday to move back the deadline for a partial government shutdown, setting up a high-stakes fight over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall just before Christmas.
The legislation sets a new deadline of Dec. 21 for Trump and Democrats to resolve their standoff over funding for the wall, which is holding up action on spending bills to fund Homeland Security Department and other federal agencies.
If the dispute is not resolved, funding for those agencies will expire, causing them to begin to shut down and furlough workers in the middle of the holiday season.
“We don’t want to see the government shut down over Christmas, even though President Trump seems to brag that he wants one,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday on the Senate floor. But, Schumer said, “The wall request is a nonstarter.”
Without the short-term bill, the spending deadline would be Friday at midnight. But lawmakers this weekend agreed to a two-week extension as Congress participated in memorial events for former President George H.W. Bush.
The House and the Senate passed the legislation by voice vote Thursday. Trump is expected to sign the measure.
But the bill does nothing to resolve the central dispute looming over the final days of the 115th Congress: Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund his longpromised wall along the border with Mexico.
In their waning days in control of the House, Republicans know it’s their last shot to get Trump the money for the wall that was the signature promise of his presidential campaign. Trump long claimed Mexico would pay for the wall, but he is now asking that it be funded by U.S. taxpayers.
“I do believe it’s become more and more of a line in the sand, especially when you have just a week or two left to be able to finalize things and get it across the finish line,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. “This is a huge issue that not only the president campaigned on, but many other members said, ‘Hey, this Congress we’re going to get this done.’ “
Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are set to meet with Trump on Tuesday. But the party leaders have repeatedly rejected Trump’s $5 billion demand, especially as Democrats prepare to take over the House in January.