Shut­down cri­sis won’t end with wall deal

Other sticky is­sues pack spend­ing bills

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Even if the wall de­bate is re­solved, it’s not nec­es­sar­ily the end of the shut­down that has gone well into its fourth week.

Law­mak­ers said plenty of other lin­ger­ing ques­tions are tucked in­side the spend­ing bills, in­clud­ing abor­tion pol­icy, im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion — even horse slaugh­ter in­spec­tions — all of which will com­pli­cate the fight.

Bor­der se­cu­rity is the big hur­dle, but those other is­sues are still “ma­jor con­cerns,” said Rep. John Moole­naar, Michi­gan Repub­li­can.

In­deed, the White House has al­ready sig­naled a veto on the kinds of bills House Democrats pow­ered through their cham­ber last week. He said they over­spend the pres­i­dent’s tar­gets and in­clude pro­vi­sions he would never ac­cept, in­clud­ing re­vers­ing the Mex­ico City Pol­icy that pre­vents tax­pay­ers from fund­ing in­ter­na­tional groups that deal in abor­tions.

Mean­while, House Repub­li­can mem­bers also ob­ject to pass­ing the spend­ing bills ap­proved last year in the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate, say­ing Democrats are spin­ning their wheels amid White House op­po­si­tion.

“Even if we had a deal on the bor­der wall, we don’t agree to the Se­nate ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Repub­li­can.

Democrats’ strat­egy over the past cou­ple of weeks of the shut­down has been to refuse ne­go­ti­a­tions. They in­sist that an im­me­di­ate path to re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment is to adopt the spend­ing

bills sen­a­tors wrote last year on a bi­par­ti­san ba­sis.

Al­though writ­ten in a Repub­li­can-led Se­nate, the bills tilt on is­sues like abor­tion pol­i­tics more to­ward Democrats’ whims than Repub­li­cans’.

Democrats say that makes them a good ba­sis for com­pro­mise and point out that many of them passed the Se­nate with hardly any op­po­si­tion.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are telling Repub­li­cans to “take yes for an an­swer” by pass­ing the Se­nate bills.

“We did ex­actly what you Repub­li­can sen­a­tors wrote. Now take yes for an an­swer and pass your own bill that you’ve al­ready passed once again,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Se­nate Repub­li­cans say one goal at the time they ap­proved the bills was to get them into House-Se­nate con­fer­ences, where they ex­pected lib­eral-lean­ing pro­vi­sions to be deleted in the face of pres­i­den­tial veto threats.

Now, how­ever, with Democrats in con­trol of the House, it’s not clear what other fights could de­velop should the bills go back into con­fer­ence.

Democrats could, for ex­am­ple, force a fight over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­ten­tion to add a ques­tion on cit­i­zen­ship into the 2020 cen­sus.

Still, Rep. Jose E. Ser­rano, the New York Demo­crat who chairs the sub­com­mit­tee with over­sight over Cen­sus Bureau spend­ing, said he fig­ures those could come to­gether quickly.

“You re­solve the wall, and every­thing will fly through — hon­estly,” Mr. Ser­rano said.

He pointed out that House Democrats will soon get an­other chance to put their stamp on spend­ing bills with the 2020 bud­get process about to start.

“I think we’re more in­ter­ested in mak­ing sure that go­ing for­ward the bills re­flect our val­ues — what we stand for — in­clud­ing the cit­i­zen­ship ques­tion and other things,” he said. “Not just in dol­lars, but in lan­guage.”

Other po­ten­tial hic­cups this year in­clude peren­ni­als such as whether the gov­ern­ment should al­low fed­eral in­spec­tions of fa­cil­i­ties that slaugh­ter horses in­tended for hu­man con­sump­tion. With­out in­spec­tions, the meat can’t be sold — and an­i­mal rights ac­tivists bat­tle ev­ery year for that to hap­pen.

“We still have a dis­agree­ment be­tween the Se­nate ver­sion and the House ver­sion, but it’s some­thing I think if we felt like we had to come to a res­o­lu­tion, we would find some com­mon ground,” said Rep. Robert B. Ader­holt, Alabama Repub­li­can.

Mr. Byrne said ne­go­tia­tors, led by Se­nate Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Chair­man Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Repub­li­can, have been work­ing on com­pro­mises they be­lieve can pass both cham­bers and be signed by Mr. Trump. Those com­pro­mises dif­fer from what the Se­nate passed last year.

“I’ve talked to Sen. Shelby about this my­self — he’s done a lot of work to re­solve all these is­sues, and I don’t see why the Se­nate would ac­cept those bills af­ter they’ve done all this work to work things out be­tween the House and the Se­nate,” said Mr. Byrne.

Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Demo­crat and chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, said law­mak­ers could al­ways pass an­other short­term con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion that would re­open the shut­tered agen­cies and then take about a week to iron out the other out­stand­ing is­sues.

“We can open it like that,” he said, snap­ping his fin­gers. “That doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean we have ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills.”

Rep. Michael K. Simp­son, Idaho Repub­li­can, said he can’t imag­ine Mr. Trump sign­ing a fi­nal spend­ing pack­age that un­der­mines the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies on abor­tion and that he didn’t think the lan­guage would be in­cluded in a House-Se­nate com­pro­mise ver­sion.

Mr. Simp­son and other ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee mem­bers said ne­go­tia­tors had been work­ing to rec­on­cile the House and Se­nate ver­sions of the out­stand­ing spend­ing bills and that the six bills not part of the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment were all but fin­ished be­fore the wall de­bate up­ended the process.

He said House Democrats’ push to sim­ply pass the Se­nate’s spend­ing bills should trou­ble Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic ap­pro­pri­a­tors alike.

“House pri­or­i­ties — Repub­li­can and Demo­crat — are ig­nored,” he said. “That’s why it’s easy to vote against these. We might as well not even have an ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee in the House if this is what we’re go­ing to do.”


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are telling Repub­li­cans to “take yes for an an­swer” by pass­ing the Se­nate bills they ap­proved last year.

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