Border wall, health care jeopardize bill days from shutdown

Trump added that he would continue to ask Mexico to pay for the project, another bold proclamation he made during the campaign.

"My guess is a short-term CR is needed, particularly with the push to fund the wall", a senior House GOP lawmaker told The Hill on Monday.

Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS) didn't go into much detail about the current status of negotiations, but said that "there is some language in there" when asked about the Trump administration's demands for border wall funding. A funding bill will need 60 votes to clear the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats, meaning at least some Democrats will have to get behind it.

"It is a divisive issue", Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from a swing district in Colorado, said in an interview on CNN. "I don't think that's a very smart thing to do".

The wall is a "very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth", Trump warned in a pair of tweets Monday.

Trumps push for fast action on his pledge to build the border wall is part of a mounting and, at times, tense scramble inside the administration to kick-start the presidents agenda, even if it risks dire political consequences.

Although the White House said on Monday that another vote to repeal and replace Obama's signature healthcare law could not come for weeks, Trump is dangling the prospect of funding some elements of the law, which enabled millions more Americans to secure healthcare coverage, in exchange for Democrats' support in the spending talks.

Democrats appear willing to increase spending on border security, but view a multibillion-dollar border wall as a complete deal breaker. Now, Democrats "have a lot of leverage" because Republicans don't want a shutdown when they control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Congressional negotiators are continuing their work on a funding bill to keep the government's lights on past Friday as they try to maneuver around demands by the Trump administration that few on Capitol Hill support.

But she said she was open to some technology and other improvements at the border so long as they were not related in any way to the planning, prepping or building of the wall itself. "Our appropriators were well on a path to resolving their differences and finding their common ground, respecting each other's priorities until the White House intervened".

Democrats have publicly expressed support for more resources for border security as the two sides have worked on the must-pass funding measure. But their earlier backing has been for the bipartisan process that appropriators have been working on - not any talk about helping Trump pay for a wall that he argued Mexico would ultimately pay for during the 2016 campaign. Subscriptions start as low as 25¢ per day. Prior to the White House demand late last week for border wall money, it had largely been assumed on Capitol Hill that the spending measure would include funding for additional security steps along the border, but that there wouldn't be any money explicitly dedicated for new wall construction. "We've got to do what's doable, and not shut the government down".

"I think we've made it very clear that we want border wall funding and we want greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities, we want hiring of immigration agents and we want $30 billion to infuse the military budget".

Many Republicans had indicated they would be satisfied with a spending bill that included money to strengthen security along the border in ways other than building a wall.

But some of the conservative journalists who met Monday evening with Trump reported he said wall funding could wait until the fall.

"I wouldn't mind funding a wall, but it's a question of what we can do up here", Sen.

"The president says he's willing to shut down the government of the most powerful nation on earth if the US taxpayers won't pay for a wall now that Mexico says they won't", said Sen. "While everybody else was out enjoying the spring, [congressional] members and their staffs were negotiating a spending deal that looked like it was going to let this one kind of [zip] along pretty smoothly until the White House and the president came along a couple of days ago".

One issue that remains unresolved is whether the five-month spending bill under negotiation would include payments to health insurers known as "cost-sharing reductions", as requested by Democrats. The fight over border wall money emerged as the most contentious issue, especially after Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, floated an idea to link one dollar of Obamacare subsidy money to one dollar of border wall funding, a proposal flatly rejected by Democrats.

If the legislators don't manage that, the federal government faces a shutdown. The battle offers the Republican president, whose approval ratings have slid since he took office, a chance either to score his first big legislative win or be mired in a Washington stalemate as he marks 100 days in office on Saturday.

  • Leroy Wright