Government Funding Awaits Lame Duck Congress
Seven bills must be agreed upon to prevent a partial shutdown
Congress has returned to work this week needing to agree on seven fiscal 2019 spending bills to prevent a partial shutdown from beginning on Dec. 7. Following last week’s midterm elections, the political dynamic has changed. Democrats gained at least 32 seats to retake the House, with several races still undecided. Reaching common ground on government funding in this lame duck session could prove tricky.
Congressional Republicans and the White House want to secure funding for President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while Democrats are pushing for a deal that protects young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) were headed to the White House today to meet with President Trump and see how they might resolve the border wall funding dispute. Senate appropriators had allocated only about $1.6 billion in their Homeland Security spending bill, far less than the $5 billion approved by House Republicans well before the elections.
“The president’s going to want something,” Shelby said this week. “He’s run on the wall and I’ve talked to him about this. A lot of us support it. We’ll see what we can do.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did not seem open to more border wall funding this week, telling reporters on Wednesday, “The Democrats and Republicans came to a $1.6 billion agreement. We believe Democrats and Republicans should stick with their agreement and not let President (Donald) Trump interfere. Every time he interferes, it gets bollixed up.”
If a spending deal isn’t reached, Congress could punt the remaining appropriations bills into next year but then Trump and McConnell will be dealing with a Democratic-controlled House. Lawmakers are also trying to approve disaster aid for this year’s deadly hurricanes and the wildfires in California.
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