Congress works to avert shutdown but still no money for Trump wall

WASHINGTON: The US Congress on Thursday steered towards preventing a partial federal shutdown as leaders hoped for final passage of a temporary government funding bill that still leaves President Donald Trump without money for his promised border wall.
Trump attacked Democrats again for not supporting the wall and said he would not sign any legislation that does not include it, possibly threatening the spending bill that Congress is negotiating.
It was not clear, however, whether Trump was referring to the funding bill that passed the Senate late on Wednesday that is to be debated by the House or Representatives, or whether the warning was aimed at legislation Democrats might advance next year.
Rank-and-file House Republicans left a closed-door meeting with their leaders giving conflicting views on whether Trump would sign into law the bill that would keep about 25 per cent of federal programmes operating beyond midnight on Friday when existing money expires.
The House is expected to act on the legislation later this week.
“The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country,” Trump said on Twitter on Thursday morning. “What they are just beginning to realise is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. USA WINS!”
Trump appeared to be referring to legislation Democrats might try to advance in 2019, when they take control of the House from Republicans.
In a late-night session on Wednesday, the Senate approved a bill to provide money to keep a series of programmes operating through February 8. But it defied the president by refusing to give him any of the $5 billion he demanded to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, his key campaign promise.
Last week in a meeting with Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer Trump had said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
Congress’ midnight Friday deadline was for funnelling money to finance federal law enforcement activities, airport security screenings, space exploration and farm programmes, to name a few. But instead of resolving the budget impasse with a funding bill to keep several federal agencies operating through next September, the end of this fiscal year, the Senate approved only a seven-week extension of existing funds.
Democrats and several of Trump’s own Republicans have balked at money for a wall that the president argues would stop the illegal flow of immigrants and drugs into the United States.
With Democrats taking control of the House on January 3, it will be even harder for Trump to win money for a border wall. — Reuters