This week: Trump, Dems set to meet amid funding fight
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE is poised to sit down this week with Democratic leadership after Congress punted the partial government funding deadline to Dec. 21.

House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Capitol Police officer killed in car attack lies in honor in Capitol Rotunda MORE (N.Y.) on Tuesday will head to the White House, where they are expected to discuss the funding fight and a stalemate over the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Both sides have dug in on their demands over border funding, escalating the chances of a partial shutdown over the holidays.

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Schumer, during a floor speech late last week, warned that a “Trump temper tantrum” will be to blame if congressional leadership and the White House can’t reach a deal by the deadline.

“If President Trump wants to throw a temper tantrum and shutdown the government over Christmas over the wall, that’s his decision,” he said.

Democratic leadership is lining up behind the position that Congress should pass a package that wraps together six of the seven unresolved appropriations bills and then pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Left to their own devices the appropriators can come to a good conclusion, and then have a CR only for Homeland Security as we go forward. And that's pretty much where our position is now,” Pelosi told reporters last week.

Pressed if a CR, which would give the administration $1.3 billion, would include money for the wall, Pelosi said it would be for “border security” and noted that the bill included funding for “fencing.”

Democrats are under pressure from progressives to not give any funding for the border wall before they take back over the House in January, where they’ll have more leverage to force Trump and congressional Republicans to negotiate.

The Senate’s Department of Homeland Security bill includes $1.6 billion for the border, including roughly 65 miles of pedestrian fencing. Schumer has floated the Senate agreement as an alternative to a CR that could get 60 votes.

In an apparent response to progressive criticism, Schumer stressed in a floor speech on Thursday that the funding can’t be used for Trump’s “30-foot tall concrete border wall.”

“It can only be used for fencing, using technology currently deployed at the border and only where the experts say fencing is appropriate and makes sense as a security feature,” he added.

But Republicans warn that Trump would veto a bill that included only $1.6 billion and have dismissed the Democratic offer of using a stopgap bill to kick the wall fight deep into 2019.

“I don’t think that’s acceptable. I can’t imagine the president would accept that,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynIntelligence leaders push for mandatory breach notification law Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Application portal for venue grants down for five days with no updates MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Republicans are trying to find a way to give Trump $5 billion for the border, including floating dividing the total out over two years. That plan would give the White House roughly $900 million over the Senate’s DHS bill for the 2019 fiscal year, but has been rejected by Senate Democrats who view $1.6 billion as their ceiling for negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE (R-Ky.) predicted at a Wall Street Journal event last week that Washington would ultimately be able to avoid a partial shutdown but that Trump, Schumer and Pelosi needed to get together and decide what they could accept.

“In the end he and Schumer and Pelosi have to decide what they're going to do here, because even though this is a Republican government the Democrats are not irrelevant,” McConnell said.

Trump has increased public pressure on Democrats ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, urging them in both tweets and public appearances to approve border wall funding.

During a stop in Missouri he urged Congress to pass the “life-saving border wall,” arguing that it’s needed “more than ever.”

“Illegal immigration is a threat to the well-being of every American community, threatening innocent families, overwhelming public resources and draining the federal treasury. Congress must fully fund border security in the year-ending funding bill. We have to get this done,” Trump added. 

Yemen

The Senate is poised to offer a significant rebuke to President Trump as it weighs a measure aimed at ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

The Senate is expected to take a vote to formally begin debate on the resolution this week, though leadership hasn’t formally announced when it will be scheduled. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerFox News inks contributor deal with former Democratic House member Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 MORE (R-Tenn.) said he believed the next procedural vote would happen Wednesday.

The resolution — spearheaded by Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGiffords group unveils gun violence memorial on National Mall Democrats back up Biden bid to return to Iran nuclear deal Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  MORE (D-Conn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Trump was right about 'trying to end endless wars' Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib's call for 'no more police' MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee MORE (R-Utah) — would require Trump to withdraw any troops in or “affecting” Yemen within 30 days. Because it’s being brought to the floor under the War Powers Act it only needs a simple majority to pass, and both supporters and opponents expect it to pass.

But first, senators will need to vote to begin debate on the bill and then have a second vote requiring that any amendments be “germane,” a requirement that would keep any changes on-topic and limited in scope.

Without an agreement, senators will face an unwieldy vote-a-rama, where any lawmaker can force a vote on any issue. Members worry the precedent would impact how future war powers debates are held on the Senate floor and potentially encourage lawmakers to misuse the military resolutions as a vehicle for getting unrelated votes.

Corker warned that allowing amendments on any topic would set a “bad precedent” for future debates.

“Think about all the places we’re engaged, [like] all throughout North Africa — so any senator at any time could bring up any of those countries and all of the sudden you’re doing this again,” he said.

Murphy added that lawmakers should help preserve future war powers debates by “not allowing the amendments to get too far afield.”

If senators are able to get a deal to limit amendments, that’s expected to block two separate proposals from being brought up on the floor as part of the debate. One, a resolution from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.), would name Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “complicit” in Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

Corker floated that if they could get the wording in the resolution right, McConnell could agree to bring a sense of the Senate resolution straight to the floor for a vote.

The second proposal, from Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges Democrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices MORE (D-N.J.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Senate Republicans voice opposition to Biden on Iran Biden infrastructure proposal prioritizes funds for emerging technologies MORE (R-Ind.), would require sanctions within 30 days on anyone involved in Khashoggi’s death, including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” determined to be involved.

It would also suspend U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit the U.S. military from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft.

Corker is hoping to mark up the bill this week in the Foreign Relations Committee. But the meeting hasn’t yet been publicly announced and Menendez indicated last week he hadn’t yet agreed to the meeting.

Even if the panel advances the Menendez-Young measure, it’s uncertain whether it would be able to get approval on the Senate floor before the end of the year.

“So where does it go from there — is there a spending bill it can be attached to?” Corker asked. “Is there something else that you might attach it to to make it law?”

Farm bill

The House could potentially take up the final version of the conferenced farm bill in coming days — one week later than initially planned due to the passing of former President George H.W. Bush. The final conference report could be introduced as soon as Monday.

The tentative vote scheduling comes after months of closed-door negotiations between chambers, with disputes over changes to work requirements in the food stamps program. Congress allowed the farm bill to lapse in September, but with funding for numerous programs expiring this month, face increased pressure to pass legislation. The final agreement reportedly does not include the House welfare-reform language, coming as a blow to conservatives who had pushed the provisions that passed the lower chamber.

Democrats were vocal about their opposition to the changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, arguing the Senate-passed version did not include the revisions and is detrimental to the safety net relied upon by low-income earners.

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as [Congressional Budget Office] scores, but we still have more work to do," Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) and Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayEx-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSerious about climate change? Get serious about agriculture Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit MORE (D-Mich.) and Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (D-Minn.), the chairmen and ranking members, respectively, of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, said in a joint statement last week.

The measure is also expected to include a provision supported by McConnell that would legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity.

Google hearing

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where he'll be grilled on "potential bias" and "the need for greater transparency regarding the filtering practices."

Pichai's appearance on Capitol Hill comes as conservatives have accused tech giants, including Facebook and Twitter, of anti-conservative bias.

"For months, House Republicans have called for greater transparency and openness from Google. Company CEO Sundar Pichai met with House Republicans in September to answer some of our questions," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy says Gaetz won't be punished unless charges filed Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election MORE (R-Calif.) said in a statement when the hearing was first announced.

"Mr. Pichai’s scheduled appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee is another important step to restoring public trust in Google and all the companies that shape the Internet."

The hearing was initially scheduled for last week but was postponed after Bush's death.

Nominations

The Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on Justin Muzinich’s nomination to be deputy secretary at the Department of Treasury on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

The Finance Committee approved the nomination in August but Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion MORE (D-Ore.) warned at the time that he was going to put a hold on the nomination, preventing leadership from moving it quickly across the floor.

Muzinich, who has served as a counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has earned GOP praise because of his work on the party’s 2017 tax bill.

But he was passed out of committee along party lines. And Wyden accused him of being unable to answer straightforward questions including if Treasury had a role in preventing foreign governments from interfering in U.S. elections.