Shutdown Postponed by Two Weeks Under Plan Approved by Congress

(Bloomberg) -- Congress passed a two-week stopgap spending bill that will delay the chance of a partial government shutdown until Dec. 22 as lawmakers and President Donald Trump negotiate over his demands to pay for a wall on the southern border.

The House and Senate passed the measure Thursday without dissent, and Trump has indicated he’ll sign the bill before the current shutdown deadline of midnight Friday. Negotiations were delayed by memorial services this week for former President George H.W. Bush.

The temporary measure gives Democrats and Republicans more time to find a resolution to their biggest hurdle: funding a wall on the U.S. Mexico border wall.

Trump says he wants $5 billion for parts of a concrete wall on the southern border and is willing to shut down the government if he doesn’t get it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said Democrats will provide no more than $1.6 billion for "border security," because the wall is a waste of money.

The president’s demands for wall funding from Congress come after he said during the campaign that Mexico would pay for it. This week he said on Twitter that a $25 billion border wall would pay for itself in two months, without providing evidence.

Most of the U.S. government’s $1.2 trillion discretionary budget has been appropriated already by Congress for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Departments at a risk of a partial shutdown late this month include the departments of State, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security.

Talks to resolve the differences have been on hold since a meeting among Trump, Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California originally slated for Dec. 4 was postponed due to Bush memorial events. The three are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama told reporters the rest of the seven-bill spending package being negotiated is “basically done.”

Shelby in recent weeks had tried to broker a compromise in which Trump’s $5 billion request would be split over two years, but Schumer has rejected that.

Some Democrats have been willing to trade border wall funding for deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants. Pelosi ruled out such a deal in remarks to reporters Thursday.

The stopgap government funding measure also would extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides subsidized coverage for homes in flood-prone areas, to Dec. 21.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.