House Passes Latest Plan to Fund the Government: Shutdown Update
(Bloomberg) -- The partial shutdown of the government entered its 26th day with no public signs from President Donald Trump’s White House or Congress of any negotiations to end it.
House Passes Latest Plan to Fund Government (5:50 p.m.)
The House on a 237-187 vote passed the latest in a series of bills to end the partial government shutdown with little Republican support.
The measure would provide $12.1 billion in disaster aid and reopen the nine shuttered federal departments and dozens of agencies through Feb. 8. But it doesn’t include the money Trump seeks for a border wall, and the administration opposes the measure. Only six Republicans voted with majority Democrats for the bill.
The measure, H.R. 268, would prevent Trump from using any of the disaster aid to build a border wall. The Trump administration is considering using $14 billion in previous Army Corps of Engineers funds for the wall, and Democrats say that would be illegal.
The Republican-controlled Senate hasn’t voted on any legislation to end the shutdown, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it won’t vote on a bill unless Trump supports it.
On Thursday, the House plans to vote on legislation to reopen government agencies through Feb. 28. Last week, it voted to fund parts of the government not related to Homeland Security through Sept. 30.
-- Erik Wasson
Scalise Says He’ll Find Place for Trump Speech (3:01 p.m.)
The No. 2 House Republican said President Donald Trump should deliver his State of the Union speech even if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objects because of security issues related to the shutdown.
“There are no security concerns that have been raised, and it has nothing to do with that,” said Steve Scalise of Louisiana. "I’d encourage the president to still come and we’ll find a place for him to speak.”
Earlier in the day, Pelosi of California wrote a letter to Trump saying the security demands for the speech “require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.” She pointed out the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department are among the agencies that lack funding.
-- Jack Fitzpatrick (Bloomberg Government)
Nielsen Says U.S. Ready to Secure State of the Union (2:36 p.m.)
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her department and the U.S. Secret Service are “fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union” address scheduled for Jan. 29.
Nielsen’s statement, made Wednesday on Twitter, followed a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to President Donald Trump suggesting that the address be postponed because of security constraints from the partial government shutdown.
Chances for a Deal? Maybe When ‘Donkeys Fly’ (2:09 p.m.)
GOP Senator John Kennedy dismissed a bipartisan effort to urge President Donald Trump to open the government for several weeks to clear the way for talks on border security.
"You know when that’s going to happen? When you look outside your window and see donkeys fly," said Kennedy of Louisiana. "It’s not going to happen."
"You can have your own opinions about President Trump, but I think most fair-minded people would have to agree he’s a smart man. And he’s not going to agree to open it back up and then have Speaker Pelosi say, ’Thank you very much, you get nothing.’"
Kennedy suggested Trump could come to the Senate to deliver the State of the Union address if Pelosi cancels it in the House.
-- Steven T. Dennis
Sanders Calls White House Meeting ‘Constructive’ (1:26 p.m.)
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said “the president and his team had a constructive meeting with bipartisan members of the problem solvers caucus.”
Seven Democrats -- including New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, a member of the group -- attended the meeting, according to a statement released by the group. The lawmakers in a statement said they “look forward to continuing this conversation.”
Democrats Stick With Pelosi on Ending Shutdown (12:15 p.m.)
Seven Democrats who are members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus were meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday but said they were sticking with the rest of their party to insist talks on border security move ahead only after the government is fully reopened.
The meeting was convened at the request of the White House as Trump and his aides are trying to drive a wedge between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and rank-and-file Democrats. Trump has insisted that any deal to reopen the government include $5.7 billion for a border wall, which Pelosi has rejected.
The group -- Representatives Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Anthony Brindisi, Thomas Suozzi and Max Rose of New York, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Dean Phillips of Minnesota -- released a statement before the meeting largely following Pelosi’s line: the government must be reopened for negotiations to begin.
Senators Attempt to Break Shutdown Deadlock (11:56 a.m.)
Two senators are attempting to get Republicans and Democrats to sign on to a letter asking President Donald Trump to reopen the government while lawmakers take a few weeks to draft and consider border security legislation.
Senators Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, are circulating the letter in the chamber in another attempt to break the impasse that has shut down parts of the government. It calls on Trump to join lawmakers in backing a three-week stop-gap measure to extend current government funding to enable some time for lawmakers to craft and vote on a bipartisan agreement “that addresses your request.”
“We commit to working to advance legislation that can pass the Senate with substantial bipartisan support,” the draft says. It adds that the plan would include pushing the legislation through Senate and House committees.
Trump so far has refused to reopen the government without first getting funding for a wall on the southern border.
-- Laura Litvan
Two Democrats to Attend White House Meeting (11:48 a.m.)
Two Democrats said they would attend a White House Wednesday to meet with President Donald Trump over the shutdown, the first indication that lawmakers from both parties will take part in the discussion.
New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, a member of the group, said they’ve accepted the invitation. Representative Tom Reed of New York, the GOP co-chairman of the group. Trump tried to convene Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday but no Democrats attended.
-- Erik Wasson
Border Patrol Details ‘Border Wall System’ Plan (10:43 a.m.)
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol held a background briefing for reporters Wednesday to lay out its vision for a “border wall system” that would be part physical barrier and part technology, such as sensors and lighting.
The remarks, made by officials speaking on condition of anonymity, echoed Trump’s recent comments distancing himself from his original proposals to build a solid wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, in his bid to get Democrats to bend to his funding demands.
Pelosi Suggests Trump Delay State of the Union (10:05 a.m.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested in a letter to President Donald Trump that he postpone his State of the Union address due to the partial government shutdown that stretched into its 26th day on Wednesday.
Pelosi suggested Trump also consider delivering the speech in writing to Congress on the day it was originally scheduled, Jan. 29.
The California Democrat wrote in her letter that the security demands for the speech “require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.” She pointed out the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department are among the agencies that lack funding.
Negotiations over ending the shutdown have stalled as Trump insists on funding for a wall on the southern border and Democrats demand to open the government before discussing border security.
The Constitution calls for the president “from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.”
Before Pelosi’s letter, the White House was pushing forward with planning for the annual address. Senior administration officials held a meeting on the speech on Tuesday, and the regular preparations -- including contacting potential guests for the first lady’s box and discussing broad themes the White House might highlight in the address -- were under way, according to a White House official.
-- Erik Wasson and Justin Sink
Here’s What Happened This Week:
- The White House attempted to bypass Democratic congressional leaders by inviting the party’s rank-and-file members to a hastily scheduled meeting at the White House. The effort fell flat with no takers among the Democratic lawmakers. Several Republican House members did attend.
- Vice President Mike Pence said in a radio interview that Trump is “not interested in reopening the government when Democrats refuse to negotiate” or recognize that the U.S. needs a wall along the southern border.
- Economists say the shutdown threatens to shake consumer confidence and chip away at retail sales, particularly as unpaid federal workers and contractors forgo spending on cars, new homes and even entertainment.
- The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said in a statement Tuesday that it estimates federal courts “can sustain paid operations through Jan. 25.” At that point, the courts will run on an “essential work’’ basis. The office had previous estimated it would run out of money on Jan. 18.
- Republican Representatives Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Andy Harris of Maryland proposed allowing Americans to buy bonds to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico frontier, turning to a World War I-era financial tactic to break the impasse.
- Republican Representative Pete Olson and Democratic Representatives Don Beyer and Ed Perlmutter introduced a bill to provide relief to federal employees and contractors affected by the partial govt shutdown that would allow withdrawals from their retirement accounts without being penalized.
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