Senate proposes $5 billion for Trump border wall

Senate proposes $5 billion for Trump border wall

Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a spending bill that includes $5 billion for President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE’s proposed border wall, setting up a battle with Democrats that could prompt a government shutdown.

The money, included in a $70.8 billion Homeland Security appropriations bill, would fully fund Trump’s fiscal year 2020 request for the wall.

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Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDemocrat Richard Ojeda announces Senate bid after dropping out of presidential race Spending bill to address miners' health care, pensions Manchin warns he'll slow-walk government funding bill until he gets deal on miners legislation MORE (R-W.Va.), the chairman of the subcommittee that handled the request, estimated it would bring total funding for Trump’s wall to $14.8 billion, a figure that includes funds Trump reprogrammed from other departments using emergency powers.

Most Democrats are expected to vote against the measure at a full committee markup Thursday, and eventually oppose it on the Senate floor.

Since Trump took office, the wall has become a central hurdle in the annual appropriations process.

The issue has derailed several other spending bills in the past two weeks, and preempted the Senate Appropriations Committee from debating bills on health and military construction.

Democrats opposed to Trump’s redirection of funds for the wall have insisted on including riders that would block Trump from using emergency powers to empty relevant accounts. They’ve also refused to backfill funds for projects affected by Trump’s reprogramming.

“Those diversions are going to have to be addressed one way or another, otherwise it will be very hard to finish our work on all 12 appropriations bills, including this one,” said Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall Democrats vow to force third vote on Trump's border wall emergency declaration Overnight Defense: War powers fight runs into impeachment | Kaine has 51 votes for Iran resolution | Trump plans to divert .2B from Pentagon to border wall MORE (D-N.M.).

He also raised concerns about the Interior Department’s transfer of jurisdiction over some federal land to the U.S. Army for the purpose of building the wall

“I’m appalled and angered that the Interior Department is a party to this unlawful land grab and plans to hand over our precious public lands so that the president can build his vanity project with funds he raided from the military,” Udall said.

Udall did not go as far as calling on Democrats to vote against the Interior spending bill at Thursday's committee markup.

Centrist senators, such as Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.V.) have struggled with how to approach the wall.

Both have signaled support for the wall, but cited serious concerns over Trump’s emergency declaration, which they said undermined Congress’s constitutionally mandated power of the purse.

“To me there’s a very clear line about the roles and the responsibilities,” said Murkowski. “It’s not for the executive to then come in and take from different accounts to supplement their priorities.”

Murkowski was among 12 Republicans who supported a bipartisan resolution overturning the emergency declaration. The resolution did not get the two-thirds majority needed to overturn Trump’s veto, but the Senate is set to vote on a second such resolution Wednesday.

“We’ve got to stand up, we’ve got to be a Senate, we’ve got to be a legislative body. If we don’t there’s no need for us to be here. No need at all if we can’t do our job,” said Manchin, who is expected to be the lone Democrat supporting the Homeland Security bill on Thursday.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), another appropriator, said he supported the wall but raised concerns about the costs.

“We built 2,700 miles of walls along our interstates in America for $4 billion, about $1.5 million per mile,” he said Tuesday. The plan in question put the wall’s cost at $20.8 million per mile.

“I understand these border walls are a lot more complicated,” Kennedy said, before adding, “I sure hope somebody’s watching the contractors.”

To prevent a shutdown, the Senate is preparing to approve a stopgap measure on Wednesday that would keep the government funded until Nov. 21. Trump is expected to sign the bill, which was approved by the House last week.

Staff-level discussions between the two chambers have begun in hopes of finding a consensus on spending for the entirety of the fiscal year, but the path forward remains unclear and additional stopgaps may be necessary.

The wall is one reason for the uncertainty. Last December, Congress’s refusal to provide Trump with the $5.7 billion he requested for the wall led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in the nation’s history.

The final 2019 spending bill provided under $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border fencing in Texas, but also led Trump to declare an emergency allowing him to reprogram other funds for his top campaign issue.

This story was updated at 5:05 p.m.