Posted: 9:47 pm Thursday, January 3rd, 2019
By Jamie Dupree
With no signs of any agreement to end a funding lapse for part of the federal government which began on December 22, Democrats in the House on Thursday night approved a pair of funding plans to re-open a series of federal departments and agencies, drawing an immediate veto threat from President Donald Trump, as Republicans said the House-passed spending plans would go nowhere in the U.S. Senate, ensuring that the shutdown standoff over money for the President’s border wall would continue into the weekend.
“If either H.R. 21 or H.J. Res. 1 were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the White House said in a veto threat against the plans passed by House Democrats in the opening hours of the 116th Congress.
Hours after Democrats elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and took charge of the House, lawmakers voted along party lines to approve to plans to resume funding for agencies now in a shutdown.
One measure would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8, to give both sides more time to negotiate a deal over the President’s demand for $5.6 billion in border wall funding – the second measure would combine six spending bills to fund the Departments of Justice, Commerce, Agriculture, and major agencies like NASA, the EPA, Securities and Exchange Commission, and more, which have furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers without pay.
In an appearance before reporters in the White House Briefing Room – his first such visit in almost two years in office – the President again said he would not sign any bill to re-open the government until Congress approved more money for border security.
“Without a wall, you cannot have border security,” the President told reporters. “Without a very strong form of barrier – call it what you will – but without a wall, you cannot have border security. It won’t work.”
While the President brought representatives of the border patrol with him to bolster his arguments, Mr. Trump did not answer any questions from reporters about the spending standoff.
Up on Capitol Hill, Democrats were just as dug in, as House leaders said there was no way they would give the President a dollar for a wall.
“The fact is, a wall is an immorality,” Speaker Pelosi said at a Thursday evening news conference in the Capitol, just hours after she was elected to lead the House in the 116th Congress.
“This is not a wall between Mexico and the United States that the President is creating here,” Pelosi said, “it’s a wall between reality and his constituents,” as Democrats denounced the border wall as a “14th Century” technique.
Democrats also mocked the President over his familiar campaign promise on who would pay for the border wall, saying the President is sticking taxpayers with the bill.
“Where is the Mexico funding?” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) on the House floor.
The new House-passed bills were not only going nowhere with the President, but also earned a quick rebuke from Republican leaders in the Senate, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Democratic funding measures would not be voted on – meaning there would be no immediate resolution to the partial shutdown.
“Bottom line -if there’s NO wall, there’s NO DEAL,” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Thursday night.
“Today’s funding bill stands no chance in the Senate, or with President Trump,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL).
“We are in a standoff here,” said Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC).
Democrats scoffed at the White House opposition.
“We must open this government,” declared Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).
“Holding 800,000 federal employees and the government hostage is not what the American people want,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
“This country – of all countries in the world – should never build a wall,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY).
How long will the shutdown continue?
“My hope is in the next week we’ll see this resolved,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), as GOP lawmakers said a resolution was more likely now that Democrats were in charge of the House.
The bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 was approved 239-192, with five Republicans joining all Democrats in favor of the plan, which would continue over $1 billion in border security funding.
The second measure to combine six other unfinished spending bills for the rest of the 2019 fiscal year was approved on a similar vote along party lines.
The bills go to the Senate, where GOP leaders have made no plans to bring them to a vote.