President Trump on Friday signed a short-term spending bill that averts a partial government shutdown for now, postponing a fight over his border wall until just before Christmas.
The legislation extends government funding for the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, the Agriculture Department and some other government agencies through Dec. 21. Funding for those agencies had been set to expire today, Friday Dec. 7, at midnight.
The White House and congressional leaders agreed to the two-week funding extension in light of the death of former President George H.W. Bush, who was honored at the Capitol this week.
The House and Senate passed the short-term bill on Thursday. The White House announced Friday Trump had signed it.
Trump and congressional Democrats are at an impasse over how much to spend on Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That is the issue holding up completion of the spending bills, which are already two months overdue.
If Congress and Trump do not act before midnight Dec. 21 a partial government shutdown will begin, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
Trump wants $5 billion for wall construction, while Democrats want to spend at most $1.6 billion, and they want it to go for border security and fencing as opposed to a concrete wall. Trump long promised Mexico would pay for the wall.
Thus far it’s not clear how the two sides might reach compromise. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will meet with Trump on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Trump on Thursday urged Schumer and Pelosi to approve money for the wall and border security, writing on Twitter that the country faced “Big danger” from a surge of immigrants.
Pelosi and Schumer have both declared the wall a non-starter, but say they support border security. For Republicans who are about to lose control of the House, this may be their last chance to get significant funding for the wall, a signature campaign promise for Trump as well as many GOP lawmakers.
Some 70 percent of the federal government — including the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services — has already been funded through next September. But numerous other agencies large and small still have not been funded for the 2019 fiscal year as Trump and Democrats squabble over the wall.