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House Democrats to Hold Votes Thursday on Spending Measures to Reopen Government

Plan is to vote on 6 full-year appropriations bills and short-term CR for Homeland Security

The first order of business Thursday in the newly Democratic-controlled House will be to elect a speaker, expected to be Rep. Nancy Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The first order of business Thursday in the newly Democratic-controlled House will be to elect a speaker, expected to be Rep. Nancy Pelosi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats will vote Thursday, the first day of the new Congress in which they’ll be in the majority, to reopen the government with six full-year appropriations bills and a short-term continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The first votes of the 116th Congress will be to elect a speaker — expected to be longtime Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi — and then to adopt a rules package. The rules package will make the aforementioned appropriations legislation in order so that the Rules Committee does not have to adopt a separate rule to bring up the bills for debate.

Democrats’ legislation to reopen government, which has been partially shut down for 10 days, is expected to be filed Monday afternoon.

Sometime after the speaker and rules package votes Thursday the House will hold two separate votes to reopen government: one on the six full-year appropriations bills and one on the continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland security.

The Homeland Security stopgap will last through Feb. 8, giving Democrats another five weeks to negotiate with Republicans over border security funding.

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President Donald Trump has said he wants at least $5 billion in funding for a border wall for fiscal 2019, but Democrats do not want to authorize more than $1.3 million in fencing, the amount Congress and Trump agreed to for fiscal 2018.

Attempts to meet in the middle have faltered and the two sides have barely spoken as the partial government shutdown is expected to drag into the new Congress. 

Democrats do not want the border wall impasse to hold all of the remaining appropriations bills hostage, which is why their plan includes full funding for six of the seven appropriations bills that have yet to be passed for fiscal 2019 and leaves just DHS operating on a continuing resolution.

Those six bills are Financial Services, Agriculture, Interior-Environment, Transportation-Housing-Urban Development, Commerce-Justice-Science and State-Foreign Operations.

Five of the 12 annual appropriations bills were signed into law before fiscal 2019 began Oct. 1: Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water Development and Legislative Branch.

Trump is unlikely to support House Democrats’ legislation since he has previously rejected similar offers. The Senate, which will still be controlled by Republicans in the new Congress, apparently will not be taking up legislation that doesn’t have the president’s support. 

“It’s simple: The Senate is not going to send something to the President that he won’t sign,” David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said. “Remember, the Leader laid out the requirements for a successful conclusion in a recent floor speech.”

McConnell said on the first day of the partial government shutdown that there wouldn’t be a Senate floor vote until the Trump and Senate Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass something in the upper chamber, reach an agreement.

“No procedural votes, no test votes, just a meaningful vote on a bipartisan agreement whenever that is reached,” the Kentucky Republican said. “And it is my hope that it is reached sooner rather than later.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Shutt and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.Watch: What’s a Continuing Resolution?

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