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House Passes Trump-Backed Stopgap; Senate to Vote Again Friday

Package may have little chance of reaching president’s desk

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives back to the Capitol after a meeting at the White House about government funding on December 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrives back to the Capitol after a meeting at the White House about government funding on December 20, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House voted 217-185 Thursday to send the continuing resolution back to the Senate after adding $5.7 billion for border security and $7.8 billion for disaster relief, despite the package having little chance of getting to President Donald Trump’s desk.

The decision to add those elements to the bill, even though the disaster aid package enjoys broad bipartisan support, complicates efforts to avert the partial government shutdown that is set to begin Friday night when the stopgap spending bill expires.

But House Republicans felt emboldened to at least give their preferred approach a try, after Trump weighed in with them personally Thursday. And Republicans pointed to comments from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at a meeting with Trump last week in which she claimed the House GOP couldn’t pass a bill with $5 billion for the U.S.-Mexico wall as added motivation.

What’s a Continuing Resolution?

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“There’s nothing like getting a challenge from the other side’s leader that says you don’t have the votes,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said before the vote Thursday evening. “Very helpful. “

The revised measure would need 60 votes to get through the Senate, where Democrats have said they’ll oppose it when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., calls a vote, likely around noon Friday.

“It will clearly not come close to getting the 60 votes that it needs and then Leader Pelosi and I and probably Sen. McConnell would hope that the House would then consider the bipartisan, unanimously passed bill,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said at a press conference with Pelosi.

Schumer, D-N.Y., called the decision by House leaders to add the new items to the stopgap measure “cynical” because “everyone knows it can’t pass the Senate.”

During House floor debate, Republicans argued a wall is necessary for national security, while Democrats said it would be an inefficient and wasteful way to address security along the southern border.

“This bill is nothing but another attempt by lame-duck Republicans to appease President Trump. It is a fitting final act for the most chaotic and dysfunctional Congress in modern history,” said Rep. Nita M Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

“It is inconceivable that Republican want to spend $5.7 billion on an unnecessary wall that President Trump himself promised Mexico would pay for,” she added.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise urged Democrats to support the added border wall funding provision, saying its inclusion is more about border security than President Donald Trump.

“This isn’t about the personality of the person in the White House, it’s about whether we are going to respect the rule of law and keep America safe,” said Scalise, R-La.

The enhanced CR emerged in the House on Thursday afternoon after Trump reversed his apparent backing for the “clean” stopgap bill approved by the Senate late Wednesday, after getting pep talks from House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and other conservative leaders.

If lawmakers and Trump cannot reach some type of agreement before Friday’s deadline nine departments and several agencies would partially shut down just days before Christmas.

John T. Bennett, Mary Ellen McIntire, Paul M. Krawzak and Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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