House Democrats unveiled a proposal on Monday intended to reopen the government and give both sides more time to negotiate a deal on border security funding.
“Responsibly funding the federal government is one of the most important duties of Congress,” House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bills, said in a statement provided to LifeZette.
“This legislation fulfills that responsibility.”
She also said it “reopens federal agencies … and ensures that the federal government is working for the American people.”
The House Democratic plan includes full funding for the remaining federal departments that weren’t funded before the shutdown.
The Department of Homeland Security would be the only exception; it’s the agency that oversees immigration. Under this plan, it would instead get temporary funding to give both sides time to negotiate through February 8.
President Donald Trump has been fighting to get $5 billion to fund his proposed border wall as part of a campaign promise to strengthen America’s security.
Democrats have resisted giving him anything — which eventually caused a partial government shutdown starting on December 22. Democratic leaders are now hoping to overcome the shutdown with a package consisting of two bills.
“The president is using the government shutdown to try to force an expensive and ineffective wall upon the American people, but Democrats have offered two bills, which separate the arguments over the wall from the government shutdown,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement.
“The first bill would reopen all government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security.”
Schumer and Pelosi also argued that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans refuse to support the first bill, then they are complicit with the president in continuing the shutdown. The Democrats also urged the president to sign the bills if the bills are able to pass through both chambers.
“It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement. “Once the Senate passes this legislation and puts us on a path to reopening government, the president must come to his senses and immediately sign it into law.”
Democrats plan to take up the package of bills when they gain congressional control in the new session beginning on Thursday, January 3.
They were able to win a majority in the chamber during the midterm elections in November.
Republicans were still able to maintain their control of the Senate — making the final passage of the proposal uncertain.
“Nancy Pelosi’s newest funding proposal doesn’t represent any serious attempt to secure our border or find a compromise,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a tweet prior to the plan’s unveiling. “A $1.3 billion Democrat wish list that includes zero money for a border barrier is a non-starter and will not be a legitimate answer to this impasse.”
The partial shutdown occurred after several failed attempts to avert it via spending proposals and meetings.
McConnell even introduced a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels until February 8. The bill eventually failed after facing opposition from within the party.
Earlier on, Trump said he was going to take the blame for the shutdown in the name of border security during a heated meeting with Democratic leaders December 11.
But he later argued the Democrats would be at fault if they didn’t vote for border security.
Schumer responded by putting the blame on him.
Schumer had previously said he was only willing to provide the $1.6 billion for border security.
But those funds cannot go to the construction of a border wall. He later reduced that figure to $1.3 billion during a highly contentious meeting with the president. Trump has rejected both counter offers.
Lawmakers already had to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for two weeks to avoid a shutdown on December 7. An earlier spending bill also included a continuing resolution that extended the original deadline on September 30.
Congress was able to fund most of the government months earlier but still has seven spending bills remaining. The first minibus package covered energy, the legislative branch, military construction and veterans affairs with billions of dollars in additional funding.
The second minibus package includes billions of dollars that primarily go toward defense, labor, health services and education — along with the continuing resolution.
Hours before today’s proposals, USA Today first reported on them before they were announced, based on information from an unnamed senior Democratic aide.
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