Republicans weigh punting Trump border wall fight until after midterms
Congressional Republicans are mulling delaying a fight over funding President Trump’s border wall until after the November midterm elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday that a battle over funding for the controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall would “probably” wait until after the fall elections.
“Probably, and that’s something we do have a disagreement on,” McConnell told a Kentucky radio station when asked if funding for the border wall would wait until after the midterm elections.
McConnell’s comments come after he and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) met with Trump at the White House this week to discuss how to fund the government.
Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass funding legislation and avoid its third shutdown of the year.
But Trump’s demand for border wall funding has loomed over the negotiations for months, and has emerged as a key division between the House and Senate.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would provide $1.6 billion for border barriers. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee would give $5 billion.
Democrats, whose support is needed in the Senate, have dismissed the larger figure as a “non-starter.”
McConnell’s comments on Friday come after Ryan signaled this week that the fight over border wall funding could be pushed until after the Sept. 30 deadline.
“The president’s willing to be patient to make sure that we get what we need so we can that done,” Ryan said, adding that funding the wall was “not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”
Lawmakers have focused on trying to pass smaller appropriations packages this year as they work to avoid another mammoth omnibus, which would roll the 12 individual spending bills into one piece of legislation.
Trump threatened to veto the March omnibus because it did not include more funding for his proposed border wall.
The administration is demanding a total of $25 billion for the wall, something Democrats say they will not agree to unless it is paired with an immigration deal.
McConnell said Friday that Congress is on track to pass at least nine of the 12 individual appropriations bills by the end of September.
But that means Congress will need to pass a short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, to fund at least part of the federal government — including the Department of Homeland Security.
“At the end of the [fiscal] year if we can’t reach an agreement on that, we’ll do what’s called a continuing resolution for that little portion of the government,” McConnell said.
Asked about a potential government shutdown, McConnell added: “That’s not going to happen.”