Schumer has called the border wall “a poison-pill rider.”
On the heels of the failed GOP health care bill, Republicans on the Hill have two new battles: tax reform and avoiding a government shutdown. I detailed the tax reform fight Sunday.
Funding for Trump’s border wall could complicate the looming budget showdown. Among the options for avoiding yet another government shutdown are reeling in Democrat support to stop a filibuster in the Senate and possibly excluding border wall funding in the spending bill.
Typically, the federally government is funded on a yearly basis. Current federal funding ends at the end of April and if nothing happens, a partial shutdown may occur. If a shutdown occurs, GOP lawmakers fear they’ll be blamed like they were in 2013. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has encouraged his colleagues to stay focused:
“The government can’t shut down,’’ he said. “If you have a Republican Congress shutting down a Republican government, that’s just about as politically stupid as it gets.”
“Shutting down the government when you are a Republican Congress and a Democrat is in the White House was one thing. You could chalk that up to a disagreement between the parties,” Rep. Tom Rooney (R., Fla.) said in an interview Monday. “But when you control the House and the Senate and the White House and shut down the government—there is no excuse for that at all.”
House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing announced that the committee wants to have a bill ready for the week of April 24, only a few days before the April 28. But timing is tight because Congress will only be in session 12 days between now and then.
President Trump has pushed for a wall along the border with Mexico, but Republicans may not include it in the spending bill. While the GOP holds the majority in the House and Senate, leaders could face opposition from some conservatives in the party:
While the chamber operates on majority rule and could conceivably write red-meat appropriations bills that include wall funding, GOP leaders expect a significant number of conservatives to defect on any government funding bill, as they have in the past.
And after the hard-line House Freedom Caucus brought down the Obamacare replacement bill last week, GOP insiders worry they can’t depend on them to help get major legislation across the finish line.
The conservative caucus discussed giving Trump “greater flexibility” on spending bills during a closed-door Monday night meeting, according to Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows — so long as it includes funding for Trump’s wall.
To avoid a circular firing squad, the House “could pass a bipartisan bill keeping the government open and attach a second GOP bill with wall funding.” This means the Senate can “strip the wall provision from the must-pass bill to avert a government shutdown.”
But Trump may insist that the GOP include wall funding in the bill, which means they cannot lose 22 Republicans if they do not have any Democrat support. Plus, the GOP will need eight Senate Democrats to support the bill in order to avoid a filibuster.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has hinted no one in his party will support the bill if it contains wall funding:
Republicans began the year thinking that they could get moderate Democrats and perhaps even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to fund construction of a wall that some Democrats have supported in the past. But Schumer has warned McConnell that his party will not support any “riders” in the funding bill intended to jam Democrats with conservative policies.
“The wall is a poison-pill rider,” Schumer said in an interview. “They’ll do it at their peril.”
Trump has also requested an additional $30 billion in defense spending. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) worries that concentration on wall funding could cause problems for defense money:
Some defense hawks, like Graham, are concerned that the border wall fight could complicate an effort to get extra spending for the military.
“Democrats, I think, are in a spot where they’re open-minded to military spending as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of” domestic spending, Graham said. “Here’s what I’d tell my colleagues in the House: If you don’t think the Defense Department is an emergency situation, you’ve just stopped listening.”
Last Friday, Trump shared a memo with the House and Senate appropriations committees about slashing domestic programs to move funds to defense and the wall. Overall, he has suggested cutting $18 billion total: $17 billion for defense and $1 billion for the wall. From Politico:
In the document sent to Capitol Hill on Friday, the Senate’s Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee, which oversees the largest individual spending bill, would see the steepest cut. Its budget would drop by $7.26 billion, largely by slashing grant funding — ranging from the NIH to mental health programs — and by eliminating programs like Americorps. NIH alone would see a $1.23 billion cut.
The State and Foreign Operations subcommittee would see the next-largest cut, to the tune of $2.88 billion. The White House wants to cut about equally from the State Department’s core functions, like peacekeeping, and its foreign aid programs at USAID.
Other programs on the chopping block include HUD, with a $1.68 billion cutback, and the EPA with a $247 million cut.
The proposal calls for a more than $1 billion cut to the Department of Agriculture. And much like Trump’s blueprint for 2018, the plan would eliminate the McGovern-Dole International food program, a bipartisan initiative that feeds millions of vulnerable schoolchildren abroad, and make deep cuts to the Food for Peace program.
This first $1 billion would fund about 62 miles along the border and replace some of the fence already intact:
The money will fund 14 miles of new border wall in San Diego, 28 miles of new levee wall barriers and six miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley region and 14 miles of replacement fencing in San Diego. The fencing would likely include concrete elements, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.