Schumer floats stopgap spending bill amid border wall fight

Anna Moneymaker

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday said that Congress should pass a stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if President Trump won’t agree to the proposed $1.6 billion for border security.

Schumer said Trump had “two good bipartisan options” to avoid a shutdown — the Senate’s DHS bill or a continuing resolution — both of which, he predicted, would get more than the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. 

{mosads}”If the president doesn’t want to agree to the bipartisan bill, we could avoid a shutdown by passing a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security. We think it should be for the whole year. It would keep the government open and still provide another $1.3 billion for border security,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. 

Congress has until Dec. 7 to pass seven of 12 appropriations bills, including DHS, and avoid a partial government shutdown. But talks have been snarled by a months-long fight over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Both sides have stepped up their public posturing as lawmakers eye next week’s deadline. 

Schumer, during his floor speech, pointed the blame for a potential shutdown directly at the president, saying if they had a lapse in funding for part of the government the president would be entirely responsible.  

Schumer said the seven appropriations bills are “hanging in the balance for one reason and one reason only — President Trump.” 

“If President Trump wants to throw a temper tantrum and shut down some departments and agencies over Christmas, that’s certainly within his power, but he has two more sensible options available to him. It would be a shame if the country suffered because of a Trump temper tantrum. It’s the president’s choice,” Schumer added.

Meghan Burris, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, quickly fired back saying a potential lapse in funding would lead to a “Schumer shutdown”

“Democrats would rather shut the government down and leave millions of Americans less secure than work with the administration to solve this unchecked crisis. It is evident there is a need to secure the nation’s borders and the president has made it clear that is his number one priority,” she said.

Trump has refused to take a shutdown off the table, saying on Wednesday that he would be “totally willing” to force a shut down if he doesn’t get the $5 billion.

“We’re in negotiation. If we don’t get border security, possible shutdown,” Trump told reporters at the White House separately on Thursday.

Both sides remain far apart over the amount of border money to include in the December bill, raising the prospects of a short-term stopgap measure.

Republicans have floated a two-year plan that would meet Trump’s demand for $5 billion for border security. 

The Republican offer would have secured $2.5 billion in funding for barriers and border security for both 2019 and 2020. That would be a $900 million increase over the $1.6 billion the Senate already approved for 65 miles of pedestrian fencing earlier in the year, but less than the $5 billion the House approved, in line with Trump’s demands.

Part of the funding, according to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), would have come from a combination of the already-passed $1.6 billion, unspent funds that were previously approved and potential cuts from other spending in the bills.

Shelby told reporters this week that Trump has threatened to veto the funding bill if it only included $1.6 billion for border security and Congress would not have the votes to override a veto.

But Democrats have rejected the Republicans offer of $5 billion over two years, stressing that the administration hasn’t been able to spend the border money Congress has already agreed to.

“No matter how many years you spread it over, $5 billion for President Trump’s wasteful wall is too much money,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the top Democratic appropriator in the House. “We will never support wasting tax dollars on a wall designed to gin up the Republican base.”

Schumer echoed that sentiment, saying that drawing a red line at $5 billion Trump was “trying to manufacture a shutdown to fire up his base.”

Updated at 4:38 p.m.

Tags Border wall Charles Schumer Donald Trump government funding Nita Lowey Richard Shelby Senate Shutdown spending bill

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