Democrats set stage for next shutdown fight with wall-free spending bill

Democrats set stage for next shutdown fight with wall-free spending bill
© Greg Nash

House Democrats on Tuesday advanced a Homeland Security spending bill that included no funding for President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE’s proposed border wall, paving the way for a standoff with the Trump administration on the issue that led to the long partial government shutdown that ended earlier this year. 

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the Homeland Security spending bill, which would also restrict a number of Trump's other immigration moves, in a party-line 29-20 vote. The House is expected to take up and pass the bill later in June.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The bill provides no funding for new additional border barriers, and prohibits the use of any other federal funds for border barrier construction other than those explicitly appropriated by Congress in prior years,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardHispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Democrats offer security bill that prohibits border wall funding Keeping Dreamers, TPS holders in our workforce and communities is essential to the nation's economic recovery MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security.

Republicans warned that Trump, who in late December precipitated a 35-day shutdown over what he called insufficient funding for the wall, would not hesitate to shutter the government a second time over the bill.

“This could set us up for yet another government shutdown,” said Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHouse panel approves bill funding WHO, paring back abortion restrictions On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS MORE (R-Texas), the Appropriations Committee ranking member.

Trump requested $8.8 billion for the wall in his 2020 budget proposal, more than the $5.7 billion Congress rejected in the deal that ended the shutdown, which only provided $1.38 billion.

Following that agreement earlier this year, the president declared a state of national emergency over the border, which would allow him to reprogram certain funds from departments such as the Pentagon toward building the wall.

Tuesday’s bill rescinds $601 million from Customs and Border Protection, offsetting the amount Trump diverted from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund toward the project.

The $63.8 billion bill is one of 12 spending bills that funds the federal government each year. The committee is expected to approve the last of the bills on Tuesday afternoon, while the other 10 head to the floor bundled into two, five-bill "mini-bus" packages. The House will take up the first of the mini-bus bills this week, while the second is scheduled for next week.

“We suffered a government shutdown over border fence funds,” said Rep. Chuck FleischmannCharles (Chuck) Joseph FleischmannGOP-Trump fractures on masks open up Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says public health threat of loneliness compounded by COVID-19; Trump says task force will 'evolve' GOP Congressman calls for more testing for coronavirus, shutting down Southern border MORE (R-Tenn.), the Homeland Security subcommittee’s ranking member. 

“I believe it is not prudent, in fact counterproductive, not to provide any funds in this bill when we know that this bill will not get enacted, nor will any bill get enacted, without any border security funds,” he added.

Democrats defeated a variety of amendments attempting to reinstate some level of funding for the wall.

“It’s a waste of money and it’s an insult, really, to our values,” said Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeState legislatures consider US Capitol's Confederate statues House eyes votes to remove symbols of Confederates from Capitol Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (D-Calif.). “It’s shameful that the Trump administration continues to abuse his power by declaring a fake emergency so he can allocate funding to build this wall.”

Republicans also took issue with a Democratic amendment to the bill that would block funds from enforcing Trump’s travel ban, limit where Immigration and Customs Enforcement can pick people up, and offer protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Trump had canceled the program, which protected people brought into the country illegally as children, though courts have suspended the move.

Fleischmann called the amendment “controversial and contentious,” implying that it broke a good-faith effort the parties had agreed upon to keep so-called poison pill policy riders out of spending bills. 

But many of the provisions in the bill are likely to be stripped out in future negotiations with the GOP-controlled Senate, which has lagged behind the House in the appropriations process this year.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate panel to vote on controversial Trump Fed pick Shelton Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending MORE (R-Ala.) has said he wants to postpone writing and releasing appropriations bills until the Senate, House and White House can agree to overall spending levels for 2020.

But no sign of progress on those talks is in sight, and a planned Tuesday meeting between Senate Republicans and the White House on the issue was canceled.

Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass new spending bills or a stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown.