Pelosi takes hard line on Trump’s wall ahead of meet­ing

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Matthew Daly

WASH­ING­TON » House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thurs­day re­jected the idea of pay­ing for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bor­der wall in ex­change for help­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of young im­mi­grants avoid de­por­ta­tion.

Fund­ing for the wall — a top Trump pri­or­ity — and le­gal pro­tec­tions for so-called Dream­ers, a key Demo­cratic goal, should not be linked, Pelosi said.

“They’re two dif­fer­ent sub­jects,” she said.

Her com­ments came as the House and Se­nate ap­proved a stop­gap bill Thurs­day to keep the gov­ern­ment funded through Dec. 21. The mea­sure, ap­proved by voice votes in near-empty cham­bers, now goes to the White House.

Trump has promised to sign the two-week ex­ten­sion to al­low for cer­e­monies this week hon­or­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30. But he wants the next fund­ing pack­age to in­clude at least $5 bil­lion for his pro­posed wall, some­thing Democrats have re­jected. Trump is set to meet Tues­day at the White House with Pelosi and Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Pelosi, who is seek­ing to be­come House speaker in Jan­uary, said the lame-duck Congress should now pass a half-dozen gov­ern­ment fund­ing bills that key com­mit­tees have al­ready agreed on, along with a sep­a­rate mea­sure fund­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, which over­sees the bor­der. Fund­ing for the home­land agency should ad­dress bor­der se­cu­rity and does not nec­es­sar­ily in­clude a wall, Pelosi said.

Most Democrats con­sider the wall “im­moral, in­ef­fec­tive, ex­pen­sive,” Pelosi said, not­ing that Trump promised dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign that Mex­ico would pay for it, an idea Mex­i­can lead­ers have re­peat­edly re­jected.

Even if Mex­ico did pay for the wall, “it’s im­moral still,” Pelosi said.

Pro­tect­ing borders “is a re­spon­si­bil­ity we honor, but we do so by hon­or­ing our val­ues as well,” she added.

Schumer said Thurs­day that a bi­par­ti­san Se­nate plan for $1.6 bil­lion in bor­der se­cu­rity fund­ing does not in­clude money for the 30-footh­igh (9-me­ter-high) con­crete wall Trump has en­vi­sioned. The money “can only be used for fenc­ing” and tech­nol­ogy that ex­perts say is ap­pro­pri­ate and makes sense as a se­cu­rity fea­ture, Schumer said.

“This is some­thing Democrats have al­ways been for: smart, ef­fec­tive, ap­pro­pri­ate bor­der se­cu­rity,” he said on the Se­nate floor.

If Repub­li­cans ob­ject to the pro­posal be­cause of pres­sure from Trump, Schumer said law­mak­ers should fol­low Pelosi’s ad­vice and ap­prove six ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills and a sep­a­rate mea­sure ex­tend­ing cur­rent fund­ing for Home­land Se­cu­rity.

Ei­ther op­tion would avert a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down, which law­mak­ers from both par­ties op­pose, he said.

“The one and only way we ap­proach a shut­down is if Pres­i­dent Trump re­fuses both of our pro­pos­als and de­mands $5 bil­lion or more for a bor­der wall,” Schumer said. He called the wall “a non­starter” for Democrats, who face in­creas­ing pres­sure from out­side groups and lib­eral law­mak­ers to re­sist Trump’s con­tin­ued push for the bar­rier, which Trump says is needed to stop an “in­va­sion” of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants and oth­ers from cross­ing into the coun­try il­le­gally.

Schumer called the spat over the wall un­nec­es­sary, not­ing that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has not spent more than $1 bil­lion ap­proved for bor­der se­cu­rity in the bud­get year that ended Sept. 30. “The idea that they haven’t spent last year’s money and they’re de­mand­ing such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all,” he said.

Se­nate Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Richard Shelby said he prefers to in­clude Home­land Se­cu­rity in an om­nibus pack­age con­tain­ing seven un­re­solved spend­ing bills for the cur­rent bud­get year.

“I be­lieve the best route is to keep all seven to­gether and pass them,” the Alabama Re­pub­li­can told re­porters Thurs­day. Law­mak­ers have “made a lot of progress” in re­cent weeks on the seven spend­ing bills. “I’d like to con­clude it,’” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia, meets with re­porters at her weekly news con­fer­ence on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton.

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