Erich Wagner | December 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

Congress Approves Two-Week Spending Deal, Averting a Partial Shutdown

Architect of the Capitol

Congress on Thursday approved a stop-gap spending deal to keep the government open for two weeks, extending the deadline for a year-long appropriations package for some agencies until Dec. 21. President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday.

Prompted by a delay in negotiations on a broader deal following the death of former President George H.W. Bush, lawmakers agreed to push back the deadline on a spending package that includes appropriations for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security and Justice departments, among other agencies.

Although the bill allows additional time for negotiations, congressional leaders and the president appear to have moved farther apart in their demands, particularly over Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Trump has maintained that he will not sign a measure that does not include at least $5 billion specifically for the border wall, noting that “the number is larger for border security.” Senate Democrats last month had signaled that they could agree to $1.6 billion in spending on “border security,” although that figure could refer to fencing and other non-wall provisions.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday issued a hard line of her own: no wall funding whatsoever.

“Most of us [in the Democratic caucus] consider the wall to be immoral, ineffective and expensive,” she said at her weekly press conference. “And the president may say he promised it, but he also promised that Mexico would pay for it.”

Pelosi floated the idea of including all outstanding appropriations bills except for the Homeland Security legislation in the final spending package, and instead passing a continuing resolution for that department for “a full year.”

"We’ve just lost a week—for a legitimate purpose, but nonetheless—we’re getting closer to when this [existing] continuing resolution expires, and of course we’re extending it for two weeks,” she said. “And within that two weeks, we have before us all the factors, all the issues that we need to make a decision. I think that what we can do that makes sense is to pass the six bills, where members of the appropriations committees have already come to terms, and then have a CR only for Homeland Security going forward. That’s what our position is now.”

Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, reportedly poured cold water on that idea, suggesting that the president would not accept such a proposal. Lawmakers from both parties are slated to meet with Trump to discuss the spending package next week.

This story was updated to note that President Trump signed the bill on Friday. 

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