Trump is 'reviewing' spending plan as Senate prepares to vote to avoid another shutdown

Key Points
  • Congress releases spending legislation that would prevent a government shutdown. 
  • Lawmakers aim to pass the measure, which puts $1.4 billion toward border barriers, as soon as Thursday to beat a midnight Friday deadline. 
  • Barring a sudden change, President Donald Trump is expected to sign the proposal. 
Congress scrambles to avoid another shutdown
Congress scrambles to avoid another shutdown

Congress has unveiled legislation to dodge another government shutdown and — for now — calm the dispute over President Donald Trump's proposed border wall.

The measure would fund nine federal departments through Sept. 30, allowing 800,000 workers who faced the prospect losing more pay to breathe a sigh of relief. Congress aims to vote on the proposal Thursday to beat a midnight Friday deadline. The Senate is expected to vote on it Thursday afternoon, followed by the House Thursday night.

On Thursday afternoon, Trump said he was "reviewing the funding bill with [his] team at the White House." As he often does, the president c

As the spending deal developed this week, Trump grumbled about what he called inadequate funding for border barriers. But barring a sudden change, the president is expected sign the legislation into law and prevent the second partial shutdown since December. On Wednesday, Trump said he would look for "land mines" in the bill after its release then decide whether to approve it.

After a chaplain opened the Senate with a blessing Thursday morning, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, offered a plea of his own.

"Let's all pray that the president will have wisdom to sign the bill so the government doesn't shut down," he said.

CSPAN Grassley prayer video

The legislation clears $1.4 billion to build bollard fencing — not a concrete wall as Trump first proposed — on the border. It would put some limits on where the government can build structures.

President Trump will sign funding bill and declare national emergency on border security
President Trump will sign funding bill and declare national emergency on border security

Aiming to cast the plan as a victory and in part assuage the president, Republicans described the sum as a "down payment" on Trump's border wall. The funding proposed this week is only a chunk of the $5.7 billion the president demanded before the wall dispute caused a record 35-day shutdown during December and January.

Here are some of the sprawling bill's other provisions, according to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees:

  • The plan would put $22.5 billion total toward border security. Trump cheered that figure earlier this week.
  • The $1.375 billion set aside for barriers is expected to cover 55 miles of new fencing.
  • It "establishes Congress's intent" to reduce total Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention beds from 49,060 to 40,520, the amount set out by Congress last year, according to a House Democratic summary. Democrats did not get their wish to cut the number of detention beds for interior enforcement.
  • It would include funds for more border security agents, customs officers, immigration judges and technology to detect drugs and weapons.
  • The legislation would give federal workers a 1.9 percent pay raise. Trump previously proposed a pay freeze for those employees.
  • The plan would boost U.S. Census spending by $1 billion over last year.
  • It would direct $17 billion toward improving infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports.

The legislation is expected to pass both chambers of Congress. Republican and Democratic leaders have backed it.

"Here we are with a solid deal in front of us. ... Later today, I hope each of my colleagues will join me in moving forward with the agreement produced by this hard work, and the president will sign it into law," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Wednesday he expects an "overwhelming majority" of House Democrats to support the plan.

On Wednesday night, the top appropriators in both chambers, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., urged lawmakers to pass the plan. Both also aimed to paint the proposal as a victory.

In a statement, Shelby said: "This legislation makes a significant down payment on the border wall and provides a bipartisan path forward" to funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year. In her statement, Lowey said: "This agreement denies funding for President Trump's border wall and includes several key measures to make our immigration system more humane."

On Wednesday, Trump appeared to accept the deal and claimed he will build the barrier even if Congress does not approve his desired funding. "A shutdown would be a terrible thing," the president said.

He has repeatedly contended he can redirect money from other agencies to fund the wall. He has also threatened to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress to build the barrier.

"Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!" the president tweeted on Tuesday.

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