Trump keeps up pressure on Dems over border wall
Washington – President Donald Trump kept up pressure Monday on congressional Democrats over funding for his promised border wall, even as lawmakers appeared likely to avert a partial government shutdown this week with a stopgap measure.
Congressional aides said it appears likely that lawmakers will seek a two-week government funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday.
No decision has been announced, but Republican leaders were leaning toward a two-week extension that would set a new funding deadline of Dec. 21. While Democrats prefer a one-week extension, they likely would not object to a two-week delay, a Democratic aide said Monday. The congressional aides asked not to be identified because no decisions have been announced.
House leaders canceled roll call votes this week, meaning an extension will be needed to avert a partial government shutdown.
Democrats have little interest in providing the $5 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico. And even some Republicans balk at spending more than the $1.6 billion already provided. But Trump has signaled he’s ready to fight for the money as one of the last big-ticket items of the GOP-led Congress before Democrats take over the House in the new year.
Trump tweeted Monday: “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” He did not provide any evidence for the savings, but again threatened to close the “entire Southern Border if necessary.”
The president invited the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to the White House for a meeting Tuesday, but a Democratic aide said that in light of Bush’s funeral and other events, Democrats have asked the White House to postpone the meeting until next week.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Saturday he would be willing to sign a two-week funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring Bush.
“I would absolutely consider it and probably give it,” Trump told reporters. The White House is expecting that to be between seven and 14 days, said a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Schumer has suggested about $3 billion for the wall – the $1.6 billion already offered along with the remaining $1.3 billion from the current fiscal year that has not yet been spent. The country shouldn’t have to endure a shutdown over “Trump’s temper tantrum,” Schumer said last week.
Besides the funding bill, Congress is considering a sweeping criminal justice package with sentencing reforms, a farm bill that’s a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other items before they adjourn for the year.
McConnell told reporters over the weekend that it’s up to Trump “to do a deal with the Democrats.” He said, “I think that’s the path to getting a signature and avoiding a government shutdown.”
Nearly three-quarters of the federal government has been funded for the fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30, 2019, but the stalemate remains over wall funding and several remaining federal agencies. Federal funding for those is set to expire at midnight on Friday.