Senate Dems: Don’t include Trump border wall funding in spending bills

Greg Nash

The Senate’s top Democrats are issuing an early warning ahead of next month’s government funding deadline, arguing that Republicans should avoid inserting “poison pills,” including funding for President Trump’s southern border wall, in the spending bills.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) — who heads the Appropriations Committee — on Monday outlining their priorities on government spending. 
“We are also concerned with reports that there may be an effort to include funding for a very expensive new wall along the southern border with Mexico and a ‘deportation force,'” the senators wrote. 
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the Trump administration is weighing cuts to multiple agencies, including the Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration, to help cover the cost of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The president is expected to submit his budget to Congress on Thursday. 
{mosads}But the Democratic lawmakers argued that the border wall faces various political and logistical challenges — including border-state GOP lawmakers who are openly skeptical about a physical wall. 
“We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s Administration,” they added. 
Under a bill passed late last year, lawmakers have until April 28 to pass either a large omnibus spending bill or another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers are expected to be out for two weeks ahead of the deadline.
Democrats argue in the letter that if Republicans include “poison pill riders” in the government funding bills, including the wall or cuts to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, they will be held responsible for closing the government. 
“They will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy. Rather than pursuing this partisan path, we hope both sides can work together to ensure the government remains funded going forward,” they wrote. 
Democrats add in the letter that all 12 appropriations bills should be completed and any increase in the defense budget should be met with an equal increase in non-defense spending. 
Trump is expected to include a $54 billion boost for defense spending while cutting non-defense programs by the same amount. 
The move will likely hit a roadblock with congressional Democrats, whose support Republicans will need to clear any appropriations bills through the Senate. 
Though Republicans can pass a budget, which outlines spending, with a simple majority vote, they need 60 votes — including at least eight Democrats — to clear the appropriations bills that fund the government. 
Tags Charles Schumer Debbie Stabenow Dick Durbin Mitch McConnell Patrick Leahy Patty Murray Thad Cochran
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