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The Border Wall Fight Is Coming Back

Yuval Rosenberg

The fight over funding for President Trump’s border wall looks set to resume.

As lawmakers work on allocating federal funding for fiscal 2020, Senate Republicans are reportedly looking to divert money from health and education to pay for the wall, Roll Call’s Paul M. Krawzak reports:

“According to several people familiar with the process, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, an Alabama Republican, wrote an allocation for the fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill that is about $5 billion lower than it would have been to provide funding for the wall.”

We’ve been here before: Disagreements over funding for Trump’s border wall led to a 35-day partial government shutdown last December and January, the longest ever. Congress then approved $1.375 billion in border barrier money for fiscal 2019, far less than the $5.7 billion Trump had been demanding, and the money came with restrictions on how it could be spent.

Unsatisfied with that funding, the president in February declared a national emergency at the border in order to tap an additional $6.7 billion from military funding and other sources for wall construction. The Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the administration to divert $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to build sections of the border wall.

Senate republicans will have to deal with Democrats: Shelby’s appropriations provision will be subject to negotiations with House Democrats, who did not include any wall funding in their Homeland Security bill. How far will Democrats be willing to go on the issue? Krawzak reports that, while Senate Democrats may oppose Shelby’s $5 billion, one former GOP aide suggested that the money provided in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations may still be “generous” enough win some Democratic support. The likely political pressure Democrats would face for supporting Trump’s wall might suggest otherwise.

Another high-profile appropriations fight? A White House move last weekend to block as much as $4 billion in foreign aid spending by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development is raising Democratic alarms and could also spill over into the coming appropriations talks. “This administration seems determined to ignore the will of Congress and undermine American leadership. I will do everything in my power to stop this illegitimate action taken by the administration,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday. One Democratic aide tells Roll Call that the directive could lead Democrats to put up a bigger fight over any administration efforts to shift money around for next year.

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