House Democrats on Thursday ignored a Trump veto threat and passed a two-bill package that would reopen all federal agencies without the $5 billion the president wants for a wall on the U.S. Mexico border. Trump claimed broad public support for building a wall or other barrier that Democrats called a waste of money.
“The impasse is real and it is deep,” said Republican Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a close confidant of Trump and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. He predicted a shutdown lasting months.
On Friday — the 14th day of a funding lapse that’s shuttered nine of the 15 federal departments and left hundreds of thousands of workers on furlough or working without pay — Trump and the top leaders of both parties from the House and Senate will hold a discussion at the White House in an attempt to end the standoff.
The meeting, the second this week, comes a day after Democrats took control of the House and elected Representative Nancy Pelosi of California as speaker.
One of their first acts was passage of two bills, one to fund eight cabinet departments through September and the second to reopen through Feb. 8 the Department of Homeland Security, which is at the center of the border security battle.
Almost all House Republicans stood by Trump on both bills. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said his chamber won’t consider any measure that doesn’t have Trump’s backing, even though the Senate voted overwhelmingly in December to pass largely identical legislation before the president reversed course and announced his opposition.
“We are sending them back exactly, word for word, what they have passed,” Pelosi told reporters shortly before the vote. “The president cannot hold public employees hostage because he wants to have a wall that is not effective.”
Separating the Issues
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, said Thursday the bills “separate the wall fight from the government shutdown — you don’t have to have one, even if you can’t resolve the other.”
“These are not Democratic bills; they were crafted in a bipartisan way by a Republican-controlled Senate Appropriations committee and a Republican-controlled Senate,” Schumer said.
McConnell called the House vote “political theater, not productive lawmaking.” The Kentucky Republican said his chamber won’t take up the spending bills because they don’t contain spending increases for border security.