GOP sides with Trump on wall; Dems now threaten filibuster |
Politics Election

GOP sides with Trump on wall; Dems now threaten filibuster

Associated Press
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., arrives Tuesday for a news conference following a Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — A Republican-controlled Senate committee Thursday rejected Democratic attempts to cut President Donald Trump’s border wall request and his moves to pay for the project without congressional approval. Democrats threatened to filibuster a Pentagon spending bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee lined up behind Trump in party-line votes approving an almost $700 billion funding bill for the Defense Department and blocking a Democratic attempt to prevent Trump from transferring Pentagon funds to build the border barrier.

The votes came amid tensions on the committee, which is responsible for $1.4 trillion worth of agency funding bills required to fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt deal . That deal reversed cuts that were aimed at the Pentagon and domestic programs, while increasing the government’s borrowing cap so it would not default on its payments and Treasury notes.

The committee chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had hoped to approve two other bills, a $55 billion foreign aid measure and a $178 billion health and education funding bill that’s the largest domestic spending bill.

But Republicans stood to lose abortion-related votes that would have aligned those measures with companion bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House, so Shelby postponed the votes.

Democrats complained that Shelby, following the lead of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was shortchanging the popular health and education measure to fund Trump’s $5 billion request for his border wall.

They also were furious about Trump’s moves to raid $3.6 billion in military base construction projects to pay for 11 additional border fence segments totaling 175 miles in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

But Republicans voted down proposals by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, to block Trump from repeating the maneuver. They also defeated a Democratic proposal to shift $3.6 billion from Trump’s border wall request to other domestic accounts.

Those moves led Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to threaten a Democratic filibuster unless Republicans offer concessions now on the wall money.

“What happens in the next few days and weeks will determine whether we can proceed with a bipartisan appropriations process this fall or not,” Schumer said.

Despite some tensions on the committee, both sides said they would work to keep the bills on track. McConnell promised the end results will be fair.

“In the end, the Democratic majority in the House should be able to protect what your priorities are,” McConnell said, addressing the Democratic side of the committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized the Senate developments, as well as Trump’s recent moves to raid military construction projects for schools and day care centers to pay for the border fence.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all the children will pay for the president’s wall,” Pelosi said. “This is some kind of an ego wall for the president.”

The issues that caused Shelby to cancel votes on the health and education and foreign aid bills included an amendment by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to overturn a Trump executive order that takes away federal family planning money from organizations such as Planned Parenthood that counsel women about their abortion options.

Planned Parenthood announced last month that it would stop accepting that money rather than comply with an administration edict to comply with the abortion counseling ban.

Murray’s amendment probably would have passed the committee, where two pro-abortion rights Republicans would likely have sided with her. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also could have prevailed in a similar abortion-related matter on the foreign aid bill.

Shelby said the Democratic amendments would have derailed the two bills.

“I am determined to keep the budget agreement intact and the appropriations process on track,” Shelby said. “Therefore, where we are able to advance appropriations bills consistent with the budget agreement, we will do so. Where we cannot, we will not. It’s that simple.”

The committee has a history of smoothing over its differences in the interest of passing legislation, and both sides want to press on and work out the challenges. For instance, the panel unanimously approved a $49 billion measure for the Energy Department, nuclear weapons programs and water projects.

Congressional negotiations will eventually work toward a compromise that can pass both chambers.

Categories: News | Politics Election
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.