The Senate fight over funding President Trump’s border barriers is heating up. Senate Democratic leaders are urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby to open up new talks on government funding bills for fiscal year 2020 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
In a letter obtained by Politico, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats warn that Republicans “are pursuing the same path that led to last year’s 35-day government shutdown—funding the President’s controversial, ineffective wall no matter the cost to the American people.”
Democrats charge that the Republican spending plans “steal $5 billion” for border construction from the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill and would allow Trump to take $7.2 billion more for the wall from military construction projects. “Republicans have chosen to back the president’s demand for an additional $12 billion in funding for his border wall, taken from other sources, including medical research, opioid treatment and funding intended for our military, their family, their kids,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will push the issue this week by trying to move funding bills and forcing Democrats to block them. “My Democratic colleagues seem eager to bog down the funding process with all their outstanding disagreements with the president," McConnell said Tuesday, according to Politico. "Whatever rationale my colleagues across the aisle may offer for these new disruptions, let’s get one thing straight: Holding defense funding hostage for political gain is a losing strategy."
McConnell has reportedly set up a test vote Wednesday on a House-passed defense spending package, but the measure is expected to fall short of the 60 votes required after Republicans eliminated language requiring congressional approval before the administration could shift military funding toward border construction.