Wall Funding Fight Punted to December
By Heather Ham-Warren | October 5, 2018
Last week, President Trump signed an $854 billion spending bill package to keep the federal government open through December 7, punting a possible shutdown until after the midterm elections.
Congress annually considers several appropriations measures, which provide discretionary funding for numerous activities—such as national defense, education, and homeland security—as well as general government operations. Appropriations generally provide funding authority that expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30. Unfortunately, for the past several years, Congress has failed to pass the required individual appropriations bills and has instead opted to pass all-encompassing minibus, omnibus, or continuing resolution bills to maintain government operations.
Last month, President Trump signed a minibus package that included funding for military construction and veterans affairs, the legislative branch, and energy and water appropriations bills. Last week, Congress passed a package that included funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Both chambers failed to reach agreements on the remaining appropriations bill including: Interior and Environment, Financial Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Science, State and Foreign Operations, and Homeland Security. As such, these bills were all attached to the minibus in the form of a continuing resolution, to be reconsidered by December 7th.
In March, during the final Fiscal Year 2018 funding discussions, President Trump memorably vowed to veto any future spending package that did not include funding for a border wall. The President reiterated his priorities in a September 20th tweet that said, “I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH.” However, despite his initial frustration, the President did ultimately approve the legislation when his turn came.
It is true that a pre-election shutdown might have reflected poorly on Republicans—who control both Congress and the White House. However, having failed to fund the border wall could also prove to be harmful to Republicans when voters go to the polls in November. After all, the border wall was the clearest mandate that this Congress was elected to uphold in 2016.
“The single biggest promise we made the American people in 2016 was building the border security wall and we haven’t got it done,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the Freedom Caucus who is running for Speaker, told Fox News last week. “If we keep the majority and I’m given the chance to lead, we’re going to focus on getting that done.”
Regardless of how the pendulum swings in the midterms, both parties should be prepared for a fight in December.