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Congress to avoid government shutdown, delay Trump border wall fight



Congress moved a step closer toward avoiding a government shutdown later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that the Senate will vote on a short-term funding bill to keep the government open until February 8, which would avoid a shutdown but also delay the fight over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

“Later this morning, we’ll introduce a continuing resolution that will ensure continuous funding for the federal government,” McConnell said in a statement. “The measure will provide the resources necessary to continue normal operations through February 8th.”

A slew of government agencies are set to shut down absent continued funding, putting around 800,000 federal employees at risk of being placed on furlough or made to work with no pay.

The delay would also push back the fight over Trump’s border wall, which has been the key sticking point in funding negotiations.

The president demanded that Democrats allocate $5 billion to the construction of his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border. But Democrats pushed back and only offered to include $1.6 billion in funding for border security that was restricted in its use.

A shutdown seemed all but inevitable last week when Trump declared that he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the wall funding during a meeting with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. But the White House seemed to signal that the president was softening on that position on Tuesday.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the Trump administration would look for the desired $5 billion in wall funding in previously approved funding, backing off the demand for a clear appropriation in the new bill.

“At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border,” she said.

In the statement announcing the move, McConnell placed the blame for the brinkmanship at the Democrats’ feet.

“I’m sorry that my Democratic colleagues couldn’t put partisanship aside and show the same good-faith flexibility that the President has shown in order to provide the resources our nation needs to secure the integrity of our borders and the safety of American families,” McConnell said. “But this seems to be the reality of our political moment.”

The bill must go through procedural hurdles before a Senate vote and then be cleared by the House before going to Trump’s desk for a signature. While the softening stance on the wall from Sanders seems to indicate Trump’s willingness to sign, there is also a chance that the unpredictable president vetoes the bill.

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