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Trump, US Congress careen toward partial government shutdown

21 December, 2018, 19:12 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • Senate announces short-term spending bill to avoid shutdown

The White House said on Tuesday it would search for already appropriated government funds to be redirected toward building the wall, since Congress was not cooperating with its request for the money.

House Republicans passed a spending bill Thursday that includes $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

The leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is urging President Donald Trump to veto a stopgap spending plan that would avoid a partial government shutdown set to begin early Saturday.

Schumer said Wednesday that Democrats prefer to find a way to fund all government agencies through September 30, but will support a plan by Senate Republicans for a stopgap measure to continue funding the government until February 8.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the measure to fund a border wall was "a shameful bill that is unworthy of this House of Representatives and certainly of the American people".

And Trump himself lashed out at Republican leaders on Twitter after speaking by telephone with Ryan. Congress had been on track to fund the government but lurched when Trump, after a rare lashing from conservative supporters, declared Thursday he would not sign a bill without the funding.

Whatever the trigger, by Thursday morning talk of scrounging money elsewhere was gone, and the president said Congress must pony up. His press secretary said he wouldn't move forward without the billions in funding for "steel slats or a wall".

The official said it's still unclear what Trump will do - a similar situation to the omnibus signing last March.

Trump had been directing his ire at Democrats, tweeting that they were "putting politics over country". Just last week he said he would be "proud" to shut down the government over it. He's refusing to sign a stopgap spending bill that would prevent a shutdown because it doesn't have the border wall funding he has demanded.

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The Department of Homeland Security, for example, would run out of funding on Friday if Congress and Trump do not act, but its border agents and those working in the interior of the country would still be on the job because their work is deemed essential.

Eight Republicans joined all 177 voting Democrats to oppose the measure, which passed 217-185.

The vote came hours after Trump told House GOP leaders that he would not enact a Senate-passed package that does not provide money for the barrier. They had proposed keeping funding at current levels of US$1.3 billion (NZ$1.9 billion) for border security fencing and other improvements but not for the wall.

If there's no deal, there could be a partial shutdown at the end of Friday.

"In 2014, I helped put together and signed a $25 billion deal to fund a border wall", reads the post from a group called The Right View Of Washington State.

But with the hours dwindling before the midnight deadline, Trump sought to reframe the debate and make Democrats the holdouts to settling an impasse that threatens hundreds of thousands of federal workers on the eve of the end-of-the-year holidays. This Republican who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the call and discussed it on condition of anonymity didn't know what was said.

Fox News' Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.

On Dec. 19, Congress began advancing legislation to the remaining federal agencies through February 8, excluding the wall money. Funding will expire for several key government agencies at midnight on Friday. Like Trump, they're facing enormous criticism from high-profile conservatives on an issue that was central to his presidential campaign. Earlier this week he appeared to shelve his shutdown threats, with the White House saying he was open to reviewing whatever bill Congress could send him.

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