House passes spending bill with border wall money — setting up shutdown stalemate with Senate

Key Points
  • The House passes a temporary spending bill with more than $5 billion for President Donald Trump's border wall.
  • The legislation is unlikely to get approval in the Senate, potentially increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown.
  • Funding for nine departmentswill lapse if lawmakers cannot pass funding bills by a midnight Friday deadline.
President Trump promises ‘very long’ government shutdown over border wall funding
President Trump promises ‘very long’ government shutdown over border wall funding

The House passed a temporary spending bill Thursday with money for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, further muddying the scramble to dodge a partial government shutdown by Friday.

The chamber approved the measure to keep the government running into February by a 217-185 vote. But the path forward now is murky. The bill likely will not clear the Senate because it includes more than $5 billion for the border barrier, increasing the chances that funding for nine departments lapses after the midnight Friday deadline.

Senators were told Thursday to prepare for potential votes Friday. The chamber convenes at noon.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday night to keep the government running through Feb. 8 — without border wall money. Trump insisted Thursday that he would not sign it. It forced House Republicans to include the wall money in the new bill.

Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have flatly said congressional Democrats will not approve wall money. As Republicans need Democratic votes to pass spending legislation in the Senate, a partial shutdown is all but assured if the GOP insists on funding for the barrier.

It is unclear if Republicans will abandon that goal in an effort to keep the government running past Friday. During a televised Oval Office fracas last week, Pelosi challenged Trump by saying he did not have the votes for wall money in the House. It turns out he did.

At a bill signing Thursday afternoon, Trump laid out in more detail why he would not back the Senate-passed legislation. He said "any measure that funds the government must include border security." He pushed for a wall — "also called, so that I can give them a little bit of an out, steel slats."

"Hopefully, that will all come together," he said.

At a news conference Thursday evening, Schumer said "everyone knows" the House bill "will not pass the Senate." He contended a "Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall."

Schumer hopes the House would take up the Senate-passed bill without border wall funding if the House legislation fails to get through both chambers. Asked what would happen if the Senate votes down border wall money, he told reporters: "Your guess is as good as mine."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speak to reporters after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2018.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

At the news conference with Schumer, Pelosi called the House bill "shameful." She contended the "president is doing everything that he can to shut the government down" — warning about a shutdown's potential effects on financial markets.

"Doesn't he know the economy is uncertain? Hasn't he followed the stock market? … There's something wrong with this picture," she said, after a day in which the Dow Jones industrial average fell to a 14-month low.

Schumer tied stock markets, the potential shutdown and Defense Secretary James Mattis' resignation together in arguing Trump "is plunging the country into chaos."

Republicans hoped to pass the so-called clean spending bill earlier in the day. However, some GOP members hesitated to support it without knowing whether Trump would sign it. The president's opposition doomed it in the House.

Lawmakers have already passed funding bills for five agencies, including the Pentagon and Department of Health and Human Services. Congress still needs to fund departments such as State and Homeland Security.

A shutdown would be the third this year. It would likely last through Christmas and into the new year, at least until Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3.

Government employees considered essential would still work during that time. However, some of those workers would not get paid temporarily.

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