Shutdown threat looms as Trump calls for border wall funding

As lawmakers return to Washington after Thanksgiving, Congress is careening toward a spending fight over Pre...

Posted: Nov 27, 2018 9:14 AM
Updated: Nov 27, 2018 9:14 AM

As lawmakers return to Washington after Thanksgiving, Congress is careening toward a spending fight over President Donald Trump's campaign promise of a border wall that threatens to trigger a partial government shutdown.

The clock is ticking with funding for several government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, set to expire on December 7.

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US-Mexico border wall

Trump has asked for $5 billion in wall funding and is ratcheting up the pressure for Congress to allocate money for the wall, which he promised on the campaign trail would be paid for by Mexico. But Democrats are pushing back against that request and it exceeds the $1.6 billion in an existing Senate spending bill that would pay for fencing along the southwestern border.

Making efforts to reach a deal more complicated, Democrats are eying a potential demand of their own in an effort to pass a measure to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference, though they are so far signaling they won't shut down the government over it.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday called for the Mueller bill to be attached to spending legislation if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't bring it to a floor vote, but stopped short of issuing an ultimatum or warning that there could be a shutdown over the issue.

"Nobody has said it that way," Sen. Patty Murray, a top appropriator and senior member of Senate Democratic leadership, told CNN when asked if Democrats would draw a red line over the spending bill if the Mueller plan is not included in it. "I think everybody feels very strongly we need to get the bill done -- how it gets done hasn't been the issue."

Asked if a shutdown could occur over the special counsel bill, Murray said: "There are so many others in the way -- I don't see that being one."

Top congressional Republicans meanwhile are expressing confidence they can reach a spending deal that would avert a shutdown, but are nevertheless acknowledging that a partial shutdown could occur even as they say they don't want it to happen.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters when asked if he believes Congress can pass the remaining spending bills ahead of the upcoming deadline. But, he added, "There are a lot of variables to deal with ... I don't think the Democrats want to shut down the government over the border security issue. But they might. We'll see."

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said that "a government shutdown would be stupid," and that it would be "a grave mistake" if Democrats push to add the Mueller bill to must-pass spending legislation.

"That very well could lead to a government shutdown," he said.

Trump keeps the pressure on Congress

So far, Trump is ratcheting up the pressure. The President started the week by calling on Congress to fund his signature campaign promise and said earlier this month it could be a "good time" for a shutdown if he doesn't receive the funding he wants.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby told reporters on Monday that the President has said that his $5 billion request is a red line.

Asked if Trump would back off the $5 billion request, the Alabama Republican told CNN: "Not from my conversation with him." But the senator said that there could be a way to get close to the $5 billion request "depending on how the money is configured" since some money already appropriated by Congress has yet to be spent on the wall.

"It depends on how it's configured," Shelby said. "There's some money owed already and we talked about $1.6 billion, the House is at $5 billion -- it depends on how it's configured though."

Republicans managed to avoid a showdown over the border wall before the midterm elections by passing a spending package that funded much of the government, but effectively punted the border wall fight until after the election was over.

Republicans will only control both the House and the Senate for a little while longer, until the new Democrat-led House of Representatives takes over in January. But even under Republican control, spending bills must clear a 60-vote hurdle to pass in the Senate and Republicans currently have just 51 seats, meaning any funding legislation would still need some Democratic support to pass.

Democrats may be emboldened by the party's midterm victory to fight even harder against the President's demand for wall funding.

"The President is going to have to make a decision whether he wants to shut down the government after just having his hat handed to him in the election," Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told reporters on Monday, predicting that it will be "hard to convince" Democrats to "give in" to what he described as "ridiculous demands to build a border wall that nobody wants."

But sat the same time, some influential Democrats are signaling there's still a chance a deal is cut to keep the government open by December 7 that would resolve all the outstanding issues, including Trump's border wall.

Asked if he could reach a deal by the deadline, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said: "I could."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
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Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
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Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
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Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
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Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
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Marshall627255
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Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
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Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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