House Freedom Caucus members took to the floor on Wednesday night to demand funding for a border wall as lawmakers debate government spending.
President Donald Trump has been fighting to get $5 billion for a security wall along the southern border. Democrats have resisted giving him anything — which has put politicians on both sides of the aisle on a course toward a government shutdown. The Freedom Caucus took to the House floor to demand funding for the wall with the shutdown deadline just days away.
“I rise today to encourage my colleagues to stay in the fight, to make sure that we help this president deliver on a promise he made years ago,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)(shown above right) said from the floor.
“I’m sad that tonight we’re here and we’re on the backdrop of a potential government shutdown. But really, it’s more a function of the fact that we have not done our jobs like we should have done already.”
Trump made border security a central promise of his presidency — with a physical wall on the southern border a critical piece of that. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he is only willing to provide the $1.6 billion that was included in an earlier appropriations bill.
But those funds cannot go toward the construction of a border wall.
Meadows also chastised his colleagues for pushing back the debate for border wall funding — but not following through. They failed in their promise, he added, to take up the border wall fight after the midterm elections were over. Meadows said they instead passed a bill to fund the Department of Defense — and passed a short-term funding bill.
“The president, many, many months ago, said he would not sign another funding bill unless we gave him wall funding,” Meadows said. “It is after the midterms, and I’m here with a number of my colleagues tonight to say we’re ready to fight on behalf of all the freedom-loving Americans to make sure we have secure borders and that never again do we have to worry about terrorist and drug traffickers coming across our southern border.”
Other members of the caucus joined Meadows; they took turns urging other lawmakers to fight for border wall funding. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) were among the other members who participated.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a short-term spending bill on Wednesday to push back the shutdown until February 8.
Jordan criticized the number of times the border wall debate has been pushed back this past year. The issue has been delayed four times, he noted, starting with a spending bill back in March.
“Now they are talking about kicking it to February 8,” Jordan said from the floor. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Really, February 8th — when Nancy Pelosi is speaker. I’m supposed to believe, we’re supposed to believe, we are then going to build the border wall and keep our promise from 2016. No way. Four different times we promised something and kicked the can down the road.”
Congress 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.
Congress was able to fund most of the government months earlier by passing the two biggest minibus packages in late September. But lawmakers still have seven spending bills they need to pass.
Late Wednesday night, the Senate passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through February 8 — and avoid a shutdown at the end of this week; the House is expected to pass the bill as well, as Politico noted.
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This article has been updated.