Dems offering $1.3 billion for 'border security' but nothing for the wall

Donald Trump will meet with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to discuss a spending bill to fund about 25% of the government through September 30, 2019.

Before the election in November, Trump had signed off on a spending package that funded the Pentagon and most other federal agencies.  But spending for Homeland Security, Agriculture, and HUD is currently being funded by a continuing resolution that expires December 21.  If no agreement is reached by then, there will be at least a partial government shutdown.

The biggest stumbling block is funding for Trump's border wall.  Trump wants $5 billion to begin construction, while Democrats are willing to give him $1.3 billion for "border security," which would not include any funds for the president's "immoral" wall, according to Pelosi.

There are other issues as well.  Reform of the SNAP program funded by the Agriculture Department and contained in a gigantic farm bill and a bid by Democrats to formally rebuke Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are also points of contention.

But it is funding for the wall that will be a major barrier to an agreement.

Washington Post:

With Republicans about to lose their majority in the House, the president and his GOP allies are determined to make one last attempt to get money for the wall Trump promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Trump claimed during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall but now wants U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill instead.

In a joint statement issued Monday evening, Pelosi and Schumer said the country cannot afford "a Trump Shutdown" at this time.  The president, the statement said, "knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement."

At a Kansas City, Mo., event Friday, Trump accused Democrats of playing "political games" and said he thought it was a political disadvantage for Democrats to fight funding for the wall.

"The number is $5 billion.  If there is a better way to get there than what the president has laid out, then they need to come with an alternative," House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Monday on Fox News.  "They can't come and say they want to shut the government down for no reason because they don't want border security."

An agreement does not sound promising at this point, with both sides digging in.  An NPR poll found that 57% of Americans want Trump to compromise on the wall.  Since most people want to sound reasonable, "compromise" is a loaded term – especially since no one can say what sort of a compromise Trump can agree on with Democrats who are as adamantly opposed to a wall as Trump is in support of it.

The country is split down the middle on building a wall, so neither side has much leverage in that regard.  But Democrats fear the prospect of appearing intransigent immediately following their House takeover.  They won't cave on the border wall.  Will Trump?

I don't think it's going to be a very merry Christmas for the 600,000 federal employees who face a furlough right before the holiday.

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