Border Wall Battle Leads To Government Shutdown
By Jennifer G. Hickey | December 21, 2018
For weeks it seemed as if Congress once again would punt on the issue of border wall funding. Even as the current session were nearing its conclusion, it appeared as if Republicans would fail to fulfill their promise to the American people to put the money where their rhetoric has been for years.
That was until members of the Freedom Caucus, other pro-enforcement legislators and outside activists refused to back down and increased pressure on Trump to resist any temptation to kick the issue of border security funding down the road again.
With the president’s resolve toughened, matters took a dramatic turn Thursday when the House voted 217-185 to pass a seven-week stopgap measure that would fund most of the federal government and would provide for an additional $5.7 billion for the border wall.
While all 177 Democrats held together, 8 GOP members — Justin Amash and Fred Upton of Michigan, Ken Buck of Colorado, Wil Hurd of Texas, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Curtis Curbelo of Florida and David Valadao of California – joined the minority to vote against it. Those defectors were not risking much since they had either been defeated in the November election were retiring.
The House a victory put Congress on the path to a shutdown because the Senate already approved by voice vote a temporary spending measure that had no border funding, so Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to call senators back to DC in order to vote on the House-passed bill on Friday.
By Friday morning, both sides were casting blame at each other for the looming shutdown. President Trump used his favorite forum – Twitter – to place fault on Democrats.
“Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!” he tweeted. President Trump also implored Republicans to invoke the “nuclear option” to essentially change the Senate’s rules so that a simple majority, rather than 60 votes, would be sufficient to secure passage. However, several members of the GOP said they would vote against the bill if the nuclear option were used.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) responded in less-than-diplomatic language when she insisted that any effort to shift responsibility for the failure to fund the government was “such bullsh*t that, as I have said before, I will hardly be able to stand it.”
With almost 75 percent of the government funded, the impact could be minimal and that could result in a shutdown that lasts much longer than anticipated.