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McConnell Files Continuing Resolution, Democrats Say They’ll Go Along

But some senators could hold up deal for other priorities, including Land and Water Conservation Fund

Jet fumes are lit by the setting sun as a plane flies over Nothing, Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Jet fumes are lit by the setting sun as a plane flies over Nothing, Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The distinct smell of the end-of-Congress jet fumes are making their way through the halls of the Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making it official: Congress plans to kick the contentious border wall spending debate until February.

The Kentucky Republican announced on the Senate floor that the next stopgap for the departments and agencies not already funded for the rest of the fiscal year would run through Feb. 8, 2019.

“Later this morning I’ll introduce a continuing resolution that will ensure continuous funding for the federal government,” McConnell said. “Even if the face of a great need to secure the border and following good-faith efforts by the president’s team, our Democratic colleagues rejected an extremely reasonable offer yesterday.”

“It would have cleared the remaining appropriations bills which have received bipartisan support in committee and provided an additional $1 billion to tackle a variety of urgent border security priorities,” the majority leader added.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said that while it is not ideal, the short-term bill would be acceptable.

“I’m glad the leader thinks the government should not shut down over the president’s demand for a wall. And Democrats will support this CR,” Schumer said after McConnell announced the plan.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said House Democrats would go along with it, as well.

“Democrats offered President Trump a clear path forward to pass six bipartisan appropriations bills along with a one-year continuing resolution for the Homeland Security bill. Democratic and Republican Appropriators have been ready to pass these bills in a bipartisan way, and we are grateful for their leadership to meet the needs of the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This is a missed opportunity to pass full-year funding bills now. However, Democrats will be ready to fully, responsibly fund our government in January, and we will support this continuing resolution.”

The formal announcement was not a surprise, as Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama had outlined the contours of the plan to reporters late in the day on Tuesday.

And President Donald Trump appeared to concede defeat in this round of the battle over his desired $5 billion in funding for construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!”

McConnell laid the continuing resolution before the Senate , which will be carried on the back of a leftover spending bill previously passed by the House during this Congress.

Things could move at warp speed, with senators eager to get out of Washington for the holidays, but a number of senators could hold up the deal over the fact that it does not include other priorities, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Shelby expressed hope that the senators could be convinced to let the measure through the chamber.

“I would hope that people will become rational and realize that the CR is clean. We want to keep it clean,” the Alabama Republican said. “We’ve fought to keep it clean, and the president I think has signaled explicitly that if it’s loaded up, he’s not going to sign it.”

“People want to ride the truck, and I don’t think this is a good time to do it on a CR,” Shelby said.

The other remaining votes lined up are on Trump’s nomination of Joseph Maguire to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and there’s sure to be another McConnell-led effort to confirm more of the president’s nominees with voice votes.

What’s a Continuing Resolution? Decoding This Jargon as Congress Averts a Shutdown

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