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 TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future 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.

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“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-AllardMigrants in US border detention centers won't receive flu vaccine DHS wants to shift money to immigration enforcement: report Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' 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 GrangerLobbying world House approves bill increasing federal worker pay House approves 3 billion spending package 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 FleischmannTrump faces new hit on deficit Lawmakers concede they might have to pass a dreaded 'CR' GOP blasts Democrats for using 2014 'kids in cages' photo to promote migrant hearing 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 LeeLawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democrats demand Trump officials withdraw rule on transgender health 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 ShelbyIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? In-space refueling vs heavy lift? NASA and SpaceX choose both Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown 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.