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Battle looms over funding for Trump's border wall

Battle looms over funding for Trump's border wall
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The biggest fight looming for lawmakers in the lame-duck session is over President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE’s request to fully fund his proposed border wall, which he made a top priority while campaigning for GOP candidates this fall.

Republican leaders, leery of a partial government shutdown, are hesitant to push Trump’s demand to the brink. But lawmakers acknowledge it will be tough to resist the president if he insists on a hard-line position given his popularity with the GOP base.

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Trump this week called on Congress to fully fund his border-wall proposal, setting the stage for a difficult negotiation that will stretch well into December.

“We need the money to build the wall, the whole wall — not pieces of it all over,” the president said at a White House press conference Wednesday. “I’d like to see the wall.” 

Democrats are staunchly opposed to the idea. They argue that it’s bad policy and don’t want to give Trump a major accomplishment that he can take into his 2020 reelection campaign.

Yet, after Trump hammered Democratic candidates repeatedly over border security during the 30 rallies he held after Labor Day, Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDivide and conquer or unite and prosper Roe is not enough: Why Black women want an end to the Hyde Amendment National Guard back inside Capitol after having been moved to parking garage MORE (N.Y.) says he’s willing to give something to Trump.

“On the general issue of border security, we’ve had great discussions in the appropriations process. They’ve been bipartisan,” Schumer said Wednesday.

Schumer said “there are good agreements on border security and other things that are in the Homeland Security appropriation” and predicted Republican and Democratic leaders could “get something good done” as long as the president doesn’t interfere.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Democrats float 14th Amendment to bar Trump from office Biden signals he's willing to delay Trump trial MORE (R-Ky.) says he will push for Trump’s border wall funding but has tried to manage expectations ahead of the lame-duck session, noting he needs Democratic cooperation.

“We’re certainly going to try to help the president achieve what he’d like to do with regard to the wall and border security and that obviously will have be done on some kind of bipartisan discussion,” he said Wednesday, but added that he wants to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The wildcard will be Trump, who has in recent months threatened a government shutdown to force the Democrats’ hand.

Asked Wednesday if he would pursue a shutdown strategy, Trump replied, “Not necessarily.”

The president had previously said in September that he would be willing to let the Department of Homeland Security shutter if necessary to fund his border wall.

“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “If it’s about border security, I’m willing to do anything. We have to protect our borders.”

Trump could have a strong ally in House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency McCarthy supports Cheney remaining in leadership amid calls for her to step down MORE (R-Calif.), who has proposed legislation to fully fund the border wall and is running to become minority leader in the next Congress, when Democrats will have control of the House.

Democrats say they are not optimistic about negotiating a deal with Trump on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for funding the border wall. Trump tried to end the Obama-era program, which protected from deportation illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, but courts have blocked those efforts.

Schumer offered trading a DACA fix for the border wall in January but then quickly rescinded when Trump didn’t agree.

“As we’ve seen, the president’s a very poor negotiator on those issues. He makes agreements and he backs off so we’re sort of dubious of sitting down with the president and making that kind of exchange again when twice he’s shaken hands and backed off,” Schumer said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDivide and conquer or unite and prosper Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday Roe is not enough: Why Black women want an end to the Hyde Amendment MORE (Calif.), who is expected to become Speaker when the new Congress begins in early January, told The Wall Street Journal this week before the election results were in that she did not feel the need to concede anything to Trump on the border.

“Why would we compromise on the wall now?” she said.  

Border security was a vulnerability for Senate Democratic incumbents such as Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Lobbying world Former McCaskill aides launch PAC seeking to thwart Hawley MORE (Mo.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE (Ind.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump's moment of violence Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency MORE (Mont.) in Tuesday’s election.

Trump and his Republican allies hit those candidates on the issue repeatedly, with the Democrats scrambling to adopt the president’s position.

McCaskill told voters “there’s no daylight between myself and the president on border security” and Donnelly touted his support for Trump’s border wall in an ad to voters, but the effort to tack to the right on the issue failed to protect them. 

Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale, Tester’s opponent, warned of Mexican meth coming across the border and having a devastating impact on local communities.

But now that McCaskill and Donnelly have lost — Tester managed to squeak by to a victory — the issue is less of a vulnerability for Senate Democrats.

The electoral map is much more favorable for Democrats in 2020. Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) and Sen. Gary PetersGary PetersThe Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Two Senate committees vow probe of security failure during Capitol riots US government caught blindsided over sophisticated cyber hack, experts say MORE (Mich.) are the only Democrats running for reelection in the next cycle in states that Trump carried in 2016, and Michigan is still seen as Democratic territory after Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowWith a new president and a new Congress, it's time for Medicare drug price negotiation Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing Coronavirus relief deal hinges on talks over Fed lending powers MORE (D-Mich.) won an easy reelection on Tuesday

Instead, Schumer will feel more pressure from prominent liberals in his caucus such as Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal An ally in the White House is good for abortion access, but not enough LeBron James says 'it would be great' for champion Lakers to visit Biden White House MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-Mass.), who are angling for presidential runs and are in no mood to give Trump a big win ahead of 2020.

"Mr. President, we’re never, ever going to build your stupid wall," Warren declared at the Netroots National Annual Conference last year.