Senate sends two-week funding measure to Trump

The Senate approved a two-week government funding bill on Thursday, sending the measure to the White House and pushing a fight over the U.S.-Mexico border wall up against the holidays.

The Senate passed the continuing resolution by a voice vote hours after it was approved in the House. President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE will need to sign it by the end of the day Friday to prevent a partial government shutdown.

The resolution punts the funding deadline from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21, a week after Congress’s initial get-out-of-town date of Dec. 14.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said negotiators could solve the funding fight in “15 minutes” if they could get a deal on the wall funding.

Both sides have been stalemated for months on how much money to give the White House for the 2019 fiscal year. The House included $5 billion for the border, including fencing and technology, in its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bill, while the Senate included $1.6 billion.

A group of Senate Republicans introduced a bill this week that would give Trump his full request of $25 billion, but that's expected to go nowhere amid pushback from Democrats and some Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Can progressives govern? Dems plan hearing on emergency declaration's impact on military MORE (D-Calif.) were expected to meet with Trump this week, but the meeting was postponed due to former President George H.W. Bush’s death.

“[Trump] and Schumer and Pelosi need to sit down and discuss how to resolve the differences,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Trump selects Kelly Craft for United Nations ambassador Union leader says Green New Deal would make infrastructure bill ‘absolutely impossible’ MORE (R-Ky.) said at a Wall Street Journal event this week.

Republicans predict that Trump will veto a spending bill that includes $1.6 billion for the border. Trump has refused to take a partial shutdown off the table, and in a tweet this week argued that the U.S.-Mexico border wall “pays for itself in two months.”

“Could somebody please explain to the Democrats (we need their votes) that our Country losses 250 Billion Dollars a year on illegal immigration, not including the terrible drug flow. Top Border Security, including a Wall, is $25 Billion. Pays for itself in two months. Get it done!” Trump tweeted.

Republicans are scrambling for ways to meet the White House’s demand for $5 billion. One offer would have secured $2.5 billion in funding for barriers and border security for both 2019 and 2020.

But Democrats rejected that offer, arguing Trump has two options: Accept the $1.6 billion in the Senate bill or accept a continuing resolution just for DHS, which would give the president $1.3 billion for the border.

Schumer argued that Republicans will be to blame if Trump has a “temper tantrum” and Congress is unable to meet the Dec. 21 deadline.

“If President Trump wants to throw a temper tantrum and shut down the government over Christmas over the wall, that’s his decision. But there are two sensible options on the table to avoid one,” Schumer said.

Schumer also downplayed that the Senate bill would include funding for the “wall” — something he’s taking heat over from progressive House Democrats, who are pressuring leadership to not lock them into an agreement right before they take back power in January.

“Let me be clear, the $1.6 billion cannot be used to construct any part of President Trump’s 30-foot-tall concrete border wall,” he said. “It can only be used for fencing, using technology currently deployed at the border and only where the experts say fencing is appropriate and makes sense as a security feature.”