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Congress Finalizes Plan to Prevent Government Shutdown
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14 Sep 2018 05:30 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rodney Frelinghuysen (Image source: Public domain)

 

After listening to Donald Trump's ultimatums to either finance his border wall or he would shut the government down, Congress came to an agreement to postpone this fight until after the November midterm elections. Now they need to wait and find out if Donald Trump will sign off on the agreement. 

This was announced on Thursday by Appropriations committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). This bipartisan agreement shows the Republicans are beginning to concede November. With it being suspected that the House will turn to the Democrats, and maybe even the Senate, the GOP leaders want to avoid having a public fight just before the election to hurt them even more in the midterm elections.

 

House Republican leadership aides believe the White House will agree with this, yet at the same time, it's not known how Trump will react. GOP leaders have been trying to get him to not keep threatening to shut down the government, but he thought it would be a good move to force the shutdown at the beginning of next month to get his border wall. 

To add to that, Trump has the Freedom Caucus, a group of lawmakers on the far right, who agree with him and who could press the fight.

 

Funding for the government will run out at the end of the this month, leaving Congress to rush some spending bills for 2019 to Trump. These include agreements to fund the Pentagon and Health and Human Services Department. 

The House passed a $147 billion three-bill package funding Veterans Affairs, military construction, and other programs, overwhelmingly on Thursday. They are now awaiting the president's signature.

 

Yet there are only four days left for the House to meet before the deadline, meaning there is little hope of passing the other spending bills for the rest of the government, including the Homeland Security Department that funds the wall. 

Frelinghuysen said those  gencies without a spending bill will be funded on autopilot by a short-term spending bill that will last until December 7. This will be attached to a spending bill that includes funding increases for the Pentagon, yet another priority for Trump, as well as the GOP. That spending bill also includes funding for the Health and Human Services Department, a priority for the Democrats. 

Republicans want to make sure it's known they are still supporting Trump's border wall, but they just don't want to have a big fight over it before the all-important midterm elections.

 

The House Appropriations Committee has allocated the $5 billion Trump wants for his wall, but the Senate Appropriations Committee bill will only provide $1.6 billion. The Senate Democrats don't want to raise their number to match that of the House, and they can block spending bills, as they need bipartisan Senate votes. 

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to shut down the government, and we'll fight that fight when it comes, but this isn't the time to have it," said House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).

 

"I don't presume to speak for the president, but our leadership tells us that they've been in constant communication with the administration and that we're proceeding on plan, so I assume that's the case." 

This is also something that doesn't look good for Trump's administration. Throughout his campaign he promised to cut spending, yet since he took office, it has steadily increased.

 

Along with the border wall fight, there is also the fight over the health, labor, and education bill. Some conservatives are upset because their policies got left off the bill. These include provisions to block funding for Planned Parenthood and administering the Affordable Care Act, as well as allowing funding for adoption agencies that don't want to work with same-sex couples. These were left off to make it more amenable to the Democrats. 

Not that the Democrats had all of their priorities taken care of. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) never got his bipartisan provision to require disclosure of prescription drug prices in TV ads. A provision to bar the use of a federal school grant program to buy guns was also not added.

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