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Senate Democrats demand wall-free spending allocation
Leading Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) negotiate spending allocations to exclude as much as $12 billion in funding for President Trump'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 Schumer (D-N.Y.) and top Democratic appropriators.
"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 Shelby (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.