With the federal government kicking back into gear after a 35-day partial shutdown, Congress is turning to its next deadline: Preventing another funding lapse.
The continuing resolution (CR) signed by President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE funds roughly a quarter of the government through Feb. 15, giving Congress 19 days to reach a deal in the months-long fight over the president's desired wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A bipartisan conference committee, which includes appropriations committee members from both chambers, is slated to get to work on hashing out a plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“The Democrats have stated that once the government was reopened, they would be willing to negotiate in good faith on significant investments in border security, including a physical barrier. ... I hope that this continuing resolution will provide us the time to work out our differences in a fair and thoughtful manner and reach a bipartisan consensus on border security,” said Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCrypto debate set to return in force Press: Why is Mo Brooks still in the House? Eshoo urges Pelosi to amend infrastructure bill's 'problematic' crypto regulation language MORE (R-Ala.), the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman and a member of the conference committee.
While the president opted to sign the three-week stopgap to end the shutdown, he warned Congress that the government could shut back down should they fail to strike a deal that includes ample funding for his signature campaign promise.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE doubled down over the weekend on Trump’s threat to close a quarter of the government again at the end of the three weeks' negotiations.
“I think he actually is. Keep in mind he's willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis,” Mulvaney told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Trump also appeared skeptical that Congress would be able to reach a deal, telling The Wall Street Journal that another partial shutdown is "certainly an option."
The president has requested $5.7 billion for the wall, an amount that can’t clear House Democrats or get 60 votes in the Senate. Democrats have previously indicated they could support funding for fencing, but not a concrete wall.
Lawmakers are hoping the conference committee will be able to come up with a deal to fund roughly a quarter of the government through the end of the 2019 fiscal year, taking a shutdown off the table until October.
“The best agreement that we can get is an agreement on border security, but an agreement to fund federal government through the end of the fiscal year which is Sept. 30. No more short term, stopgap funding measures and we cannot have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over our people and our economy,” GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (Maine) told CBS.
Senators have floated taking up legislation that would prevent future shutdowns by automatically creating a continuing resolution (CR), though there are competing proposals on the idea.
Trump said he also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of circumventing Congress by using a mechanism such as declaring a national emergency in order to build the wall.
“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a — obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
But declaring a national emergency to construct the wall would spark fierce backlash from Congress, including Republicans who have publicly warned Trump against taking the dramatic step.
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Fla.) called an emergency declaration a "terrible idea."
"It doesn't mean that I don't want border security," he said. "I do. I just think that's the wrong way to achieve it. It doesn't provide certainty. And you could very well wind up in sort of a theatric victory at the front end and then not getting it done."
State of the Union
Despite having struck a deal to temporarily reopen the government, the State of the Union address is not expected to move forward on Tuesday evening as initially scheduled. House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget 'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.) had retracted the president’s invitation, calling on the speech to take place after the government reopened.
The California Democrat, asked Friday if the joint session would continue as “planned,” told reporters that “the State of the Union is not planned now.”
"What I said to the president is, when the government is open we will discuss a mutually agreeable date and I'll look forward to doing that and welcoming the president to the House of Representatives when we mutually agree on that date,” she continued.
Trump initially indicated that he wanted to go forward with the Jan. 29 speech. But after Pelosi said the House would not pass the joint resolution required to green light the speech, the president backed down, saying he looked forward to addressing Congress “in the near future.”
Pelosi has given no hints about when she is considering rescheduling the speech, but two sources told Fox News that Feb. 5 is being floated as the new potential date.
The Senate will try to take up a Syria policy bill after Democrats blocked the measure three times, arguing that the chamber should be focused on ending the partial government shutdown.
The bill—which was initially expected to be the first piece of legislation passed by the Senate in 2019— includes sanctions against the Syrian government and bolsters U.S. security support for Israel and Jordan.
But it ran into a roadblock after Democrats pledged to block it until the government was reopened. Though Republicans have a 53-47 majority, they need seven Democrats to get around a filibuster. They were only able to get four during the shutdown: Sens. Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Failed drug vote points to bigger challenges for Democrats Overnight Defense & National Security — Blinken heads to the hot seat MORE (N.J.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).
Democrats are also under pressure to oppose the foreign policy package because it includes legislation from Rubio and Manchin meant to counter the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel.
The Senate will hold a procedural vote on taking up the foreign policy legislation Monday at 5:30 p.m.
The lower chamber is scheduled to have a short week with members flying back to their districts on Wednesday.
But first, the House is expected to take up legislation to increase the pay of federal civilian employees, with Democrats arguing it would counter a pay freeze "forced upon them by the Trump administration.”
"Federal employees have dedicated their lives and careers in service to the American people.Yet far too often their sacrifice and dedication go unappreciated, met instead with insult and vitriol from the Oval Office," Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHow lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation Overnight Defense & National Security — Congress begins Afghanistan grilling Connolly rips Wilson over 'you lie' during Blinken hearing MORE (D-Va.) added in a statement.
They'll also take up a myriad of financial services and Homeland Security-related bills under suspension.
One resolution, from Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersAdvocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Cori Bush hits her stride by drawing on activist past Cawthorn to introduce resolution condemning political violence after warning of 'bloodshed' if elections are 'rigged' MORE (D-Calif.), would lend congressional backing to the idea that financial institutions should give consumers impacted by the partial shutdown a break as they try to catch up on bills and other payments.
“Financial institutions should consider waiving or reducing penalty, late payment, and similar fees as well as ceasing foreclosures and providing forbearance for the duration of the shutdown, in order to provide quick relief to their affected customers,” the resolution says.
The short week comes in the wake of House Republicans delaying their retreat last week — which was scheduled to be held in West Virginia from Wednesday through Friday — due to shutdown negotiations.