Senate Republicans Punt Border Wall Funding To After Midterms — How Will The House GOP Respond?

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
  • The Senate overwhelmingly passed a spending package that delays a showdown over President Donald Trump’s border wall until after the midterm elections.
  • The Senate package funds the Department of Homeland Security with a continuing resolution that runs through Dec. 7 and does not provide additional wall funding.
  • Like their Senate colleagues, House Republicans have no appetite for risking a government shutdown over border wall funding just ahead of the midterms.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a spending package Tuesday that keeps the government running until after the November midterm elections and avoids, for now, a showdown over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

In a 93-7 vote, senators moved to fund the Pentagon to the tune of $607 billion for fiscal year 2019, plus full-year funding for the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. But the Department of Homeland Security, which pays for border wall construction, will be funded at current levels via a continuing resolution that runs through Dec. 7.

Funding DHS on a continuing resolution allows Senate Republicans to avoid what promises to be a contentious fight over Trump’s signature border security initiative. Senate Democrats have agreed to include $1.6 billion for the border wall in a fiscal year 2019 spending bill, but that figure is far short of the $5 billion sought by the White House.

The Senate’s spending package now moves to the House, where GOP lawmakers appear inclined to support the continuing resolution. Like their Senate colleagues, House Republicans do not want to risk a government shutdown by insisting on border wall funding in the stopgap spending measure. (RELATED: Border Wall Fight Likely Pushed To After Midterms)

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to shut down the government and we’ll fight that fight when it comes, but this isn’t the time to have it,” GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Thursday, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t presume to speak for the president but our leadership tells us that they’ve been in constant communication with the administration and that we’re proceeding on plan, so I assume that’s the case.”

Even the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans closely aligned with Trump on border issues, is wary of shutting down the government just ahead of the midterms. Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina has said passing a spending bill is a more urgent priority than wrangling over wall funding.

“I think that at this point we need to fund the government and we need to have a deliberate plan on how we secure our border,” Meadows said in early September, according to USA Today. “I don’t see a deliberate plan on how we secure our border happening by the end of September.”

“You know having that debate over the next three months is probably more prudent than trying to have it in the next week-and-a-half,” the Republican lawmaker added.

For his part, Trump has floated the idea of shutting down the government to force lawmakers to pony up more money for the wall. Trump told reporters earlier this month that he was “willing to do anything” to secure funding for his border security priorities.

Conversely, he has hinted at a preference for waiting until after the midterms to push for wall funding, telling The Daily Caller in an interview that he “doesn’t like the idea of shutdowns.”

“I think that after midterms, we’re going to have a very serious discussion because we want border security, we have to have it,” Trump said. “It’s going to be a big part of — it is a big part of this country. We have to have border security.”

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