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Appropriations/Budget News

December 13, 2018

Dec. 13, 2018 Off to a bad start


Off to a bad start

The Hill reports on today’s White House meeting between President Trump and Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer:

“President Trump on Tuesday engaged in an extraordinary argument with Democratic congressional leaders over his demand for border-wall funding, threatening a government shutdown if he does not get the money. “‘I will be the one to shut it down,’ he told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the White House.”

Meeting summary from Politico:

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to shut down large parts of the federal government over funding for his proposed border wall, openly quarreling with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in an extraordinary exchange that unfolded before the press in the Oval Office.

“Trump has railed against congressional Democrats for refusing to agree to his demand for $5 billion for a border wall, but on Tuesday he asserted that ‘one way or another it is going to be built’ and that he would have ‘no other choice’ but to shut down the government if he doesn’t get enough funding for the wall.

“‘I am proud to shut down the government for border security,’ Trump said.”

Today’s White House meeting – don’t expect much 

Congressional Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will meet today at 11:30 AM with President Trump to discuss how to finalize the remaining seven FY 19 appropriations bills. The current CR funding those bills expires on December 21st.

Both sides are dug in over the amount of funding to be appropriated for the Trump wall. Trump wants $5B. Democrats will only go to $1.6B. Schumer and Pelosi put out a statement yesterday saying if there is a partial government shutdown it won’t be their fault:

“Republicans still control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open. Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown, especially at this time of economic uncertainty. This holiday season, the president knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.”

Trump isn’t the only one making a deal seem highly impossible. The House Freedom Caucus drew a line in the sand last night with its statement:

“This is our last chance to address illegal immigration before Democrats take over the House. Republicans in Congress must fulfill our promise to the American people by building President Trump’s wall, ending catch and release, and securing our borders.”

Tweets from Sarah Ferris with Politico indicate that the Caucus had even more immigration demands:

“Freedom Caucus agreed tonight to only support a funding bill if it includes a full $5 billion for border wall and hard-line asylum language from Goodlatte immigration bill.”

“Freedom Caucus tonight took a vote to support $5B for border wall in omnibus — if it also ends the ‘catch and release’ immigration policy”

Putting all this together – Politico Playbook predicts gloom and doom ahead:

“– THE MOST LIKELY outcome at this moment is that Congress will have to fund DHS for a month until the beginning of Pelosi’s speakership. But we have a very tough time seeing the coalition that would be willing to pass such a bill out of the House. That would mark Republicans folding on the wall, since Democrats control the House come January.”

Politico reports on one speck of light that might soften President Trump’s stance:

“NEWSHOUR/MARIST POLL: ‘Americans Want Trump To Compromise On Border Wall’:  ‘As President Trump threatens to shut the government down if Congress does not approve funding for a southern border wall, most (57%) Americans think he should compromise to prevent gridlock, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll. Furthermore, nearly seven in ten (69%) of Americans do not consider building a border wall between the United States and Mexico to be an immediate priority for the next Congress.'”

What could be in an omnibus bill?

SAC Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy made a floor statement yesterday indicating that reaching an agreement on most of the remaining appropriations bills wasn’t far-fetched:

“Six of the seven bills are nearly complete, with most funding issues resolved and only a few policy issues remaining.  We are working on a disaster package for the victims of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, the California wildfires, the Hawaii volcano, the earthquake in Alaska, and other disasters from this year that devastated the homes, communities, and lives of so many Americans. These bills could be finished in short order, put before Congress for a vote, and sent to the President for signature into law.”

Other Senators see the omnibus as an opportunity to include non-appropriations legislation. From The Hill:

“Senate Majority Whip  John Cornyn  (R-Texas) said Monday there could be a ‘path’ to linking a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill to year-end spending bill talks if more Republicans come on board.”

SAC Chairman Richard Shelby said last week he wanted to keep the omnibus as clean as possible.

Revised GOP tax bill

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady released a revised tax bill yesterday. There is no chance this bill will go anywhere this year.

Politico reports on what was changed from last month’s bill that failed to attract enough GOP support to pass:

“Facing complaints from conservatives, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the chamber’s top tax writer, added some of their top priorities, including language repealing the decades-old Johnson amendment, which bars nonprofits from engaging in political activities.

“He also added controversial language backed by abortion opponents stipulating that ‘unborn children’ may be designated as beneficiaries of 529 education-savings accounts.

“At the same time, he dropped provisions reviving a batch of tax ‘extenders’ – hated by many conservatives, though they enjoy broad backing in the Senate.”


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Jerry Chouinard
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