Congress Again Rebukes Trump Over Border Wall Funding Tactic
Vehicles drive along a highway next to the border wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photographer David Maung/Bloomberg)

Congress Again Rebukes Trump Over Border Wall Funding Tactic

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(Bloomberg) -- Congress for the second time this year rebuked President Donald Trump for raiding military spending accounts to fund his border wall, an opening move for October spending talks aimed at avoiding another government shutdown.

The House, in a 236-174 vote Friday, sent the president a resolution to cancel the national emergency declaration that Trump used to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds toward the wall this year. The president vetoed a similar measure earlier this year.

“The president chose his wall over our national security and the needs of our servicemembers and their families,” said Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat. “Congressional Democrats have repeatedly made clear – including in our appropriations bills – that we will not give this president a blank check by backfilling these projects.”

Trump took the extraordinary approach of redirecting taxpayer money after Congress approved only one-quarter of the $5.7 billion he sought for the wall in the wake of a 35-day government shutdown early this year. Another standoff over one of Trump’s central campaign promises could derail the next round of talks to avoid another shutdown when short-term funding ends.

The Senate on approved the same measure, S.J. Res. 54, on a 54 to 41 vote Wednesday.

Trump has said he’ll veto the resolution passed Friday. The earlier measure passed the House in February on a 245-182 vote -- like Friday’s tally, well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

The decision to stage a second rebuke came after the Pentagon released the list of projects affected by Trump’s move and revealed that Republican-held as well as Democratic-held districts would be affected.

Republicans and Democrats are preparing for high-stakes funding talks later this month under the threat of another shutdown related to border-wall funding. Trump is expected to sign a temporary spending bill to fund the government through Nov. 21, which passed the Senate Thursday.

The Senate proposed to give Trump $5 billion more for the border wall in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 and to replenish the military construction and Pentagon funds he tapped last year. House Democrats say they won’t go along with that approach.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, is set to meet Trump later Friday to come up with a strategy to reconcile the impasse over border wall funding and redirecting Pentagon funds.

One option under discussion is to pass six or seven of the less controversial spending bills and leave the possibility of a shutdown hanging over agencies including Defense, State, Homeland Security, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Education.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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