Senate Democrats demand wall-free spending allocation

Senate Democrats demand wall-free spending allocation
© Greg Nash

Leading Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Trump: Let Assad, Russia or China protect the Kurds MORE (R-Ky.) negotiate spending allocations to exclude as much as $12 billion in funding for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE’s border wall.

“Democrats have long made clear that we will not support appropriations bills that include these funding allocations,” said a letter to McConnell spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (D-N.Y.) and top Democratic appropriators.

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“At a time when the majority of Americans who need and seek opioids treatment cannot get it, we should not be wasting money on an ineffective border wall,” the letter continued.

Democrats contend that Republicans siphoned $5 billion in direct funding for the wall from a bill that deals with health, and have added another $7.2 billion to military accounts that Trump has reprogrammed for the wall.

They are demanding restrictions on the funds to block Trump from redirecting them toward the wall under a state of emergency.

On Thursday, Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee voted against the GOP-proposed plan to divvy up the funds, as well as the defense spending bill, signaling that the bills would not be able to move on the Senate floor.

McConnell is mulling bringing the defense bill to the floor to force Democrats into a tough vote.

“Whatever rationale my colleagues across the aisle may offer for these new disruptions, let’s get one thing straight: holding defense funding hostage for political gain is a losing strategy,” he said Thursday morning.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Contractors fight for pay from last shutdown — and the next one Trump signs stopgap measure, funding government through November MORE (R-Ala.) seemed to endorse the strategy.

“Put them on record voting against defense,” he said. “I would be very reluctant as a Democrat to vote against a motion to proceed on defense.”

Amid the discord, the House was set to take up a stopgap funding measure to keep the government running in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.