MENU

Congressmen confident no government shutdown, displeased with compromises

Members of Congress are feeling confident that they will be able to avoid a government shutdown this week, but some are displeased with the compromises they have been forced to take from the White House on issues like delaying construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and health care funding.

To keep the government funded for the remainder of the 2017 fiscal year, Congress has been asked to pass a budget that includes $30 billion in additional defense spending and $3 billion in homeland security funds, reflecting the top priorities of the Trump administration. Up until Monday, President Donald Trump was pushing Congress to appropriate $1 billion to go towards the border wall, which was a non-starter with Democrats and even some Republicans.

The White House and members of Congress made it clear in the run-up to the budget deadline that they did not want to see a government shutdown and have worked out a plan to continue funding at existing levels for the next week or so to give Congress the time to finish up negotiations on Trump's plan.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) told WJLA on Wednesday that he believes a government shutdown is "much less likely" now than it was just a few days ago. "We got over the first big hurdle [which] was whether or not funding for the wall in Mexico had to be there, and when the president took that off the table, he brought us closer together," Beyer said.

Trump's decision to loosen his negotiating position on border wall funding was not appreciated by everyone in Congress. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) told KFDM that he is "very, very disappointed that we pulled back from the border wall," which he sees as one of Trump's major campaign issues.

"Hopefully we will avoid a government shutdown," he said. "That doesn't mean I'm not disappointed that we're putting off building the wall."

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) suspects the government funding bill could move past the House by the end of the week, but there could still be disagreements that stall the funding bill for another week or so.

"There are always details at the end of these negotiations and sometimes they're not over things that are that big at all," Byrne said in an interview with WPMI. "So it's not unusual for us to hit little snags and my anticipation is that's where we are."

Trump's 2017 budget request puts heavy emphasis on more than $30 billion in increased spending for homeland security and the military, offset by significant cuts to non-defense discretionary spending.

House appropriator, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), said that his committee is preparing to authorize the additional spending for border security, but not the wall.

"What we're looking at is to add more money for ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], for homeland security in general," he told KGBT.

The Department of Homeland Security has already found approximately $20 million in existing funds that could pay for the planning phase of the border wall and authorization for building a physical barrier was granted by Congress back in 2006 under the Secure Fence Act.

The White House's renegotiated position on the border wall went a long way in getting Democratic support for a government spending bill, legislation that cannot pass without bipartisan support.

"What I'm hearing right now is positive recently because the president has dropped his insistence that funding the border wall be [included]," Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I) told WJAR. "Democrats welcome [that] and we're willing to work with the president to do just that, keep the government up and running."

Even as the White House appears poised to secure its first bipartisan legislative victory, Trump is still holding on to a piece of leverage to shore up Democratic support for the bill, namely threatening to withhold the payment of government subsidies into the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, exchanges.

"Mr. Trump has threatened to withhold the subsidy payments, which are the subject of a lawsuit, as leverage in negotiations with Democrats whose votes will be needed to pass any spending bill in the Senate," Rep. Beyer said.