President Donald Trump’s call for action on extra money to build a wall along the Mexican border could run aground in the U.S. Senate on Friday, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill were girding for a possible weekend session and the chance of a partial government shutdown, if the Congress and the White House can’t come to an agreement on a temporary funding bill for part of the federal government.
“I’ve made my position very clear,” the President said as he signed a major farm policy bill on Thursday. “Any measure that funds the government must include border security. It has to. Not for political purposes but for our country, for the safety of our community.”
But with no chance that the House-passed bill can garner 60 votes in the Senate, the two sides could face gridlock – and then a countdown to a partial government shutdown later on Friday night, which would impact about a quarter of the federal government, and an estimated 800,000 federal employees.
“Everyone knows it can’t pass the Senate,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of the President’s border wall money. “The Trump temper tantrum may produce a government shutdown, it will not get him his wall.”
The victory in the House on Friday only came about after the President made clear he would block a seven week spending plan for about one quarter of the government – because it did nothing about border security spending.
GOP leaders – who didn’t think they could get a majority of votes for the border wall – sweetened the bill by adding almost $8 billion in disaster relief money, to help areas in the South hit by hurricanes, and places out West which have suffered from wildfires.
“This supplemental disaster funding is a down payment to get the hard working folks in my district back on their feet,” said Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), whose district in the Panhandle of Florida was ravaged by Hurricane Michael.
“Congress should stay here until we get this done,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), who made the case for disaster aid to blueberry, peach, and other agricultural producers in his state. “We need border security and we cannot kick the can on disaster funding.”
But Democrats made clear the $5.7 billion in funding for the wall and border security was a bridge too far.
“Democrats are for real border security solutions. Not for wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on an immoral, ineffective & expensive wall,” said Speaker-Designate Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
President Trump was scheduled to fly to Florida on Friday afternoon, to start a 16 day stay at his Mar-a-Lago retreat, but White House officials indicated that travel schedule could be delayed if the funding bill remains in limbo.