WASHINGTON — Ahead of President Trump’s Oval Office sit-down Tuesday with Chuck and Nancy, the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate said Trump should be willing to take his demand for border wall funding off the table.
The continuing resolution, used as a stopgap measure to keep the government open, expires just before Christmas. The House and Senate have reached agreement on everything except border wall funding.
The House included $5 billion for border security in its funding bill, while the Senate version includes $1.6 billion. Trump wants $25 billion; Congress has not yet approved any money to begin work on any of the wall prototypes Trump was shown in California earlier this year. Construction projects announced by the administration have consisted of renovations and improvements to existing fence lines.
“Arizona, together with our Military and Border Patrol, is bracing for a massive surge at a NON-WALLED area. WE WILL NOT LET THEM THROUGH. Big danger. Nancy and Chuck must approve Boarder [sic] Security and the Wall!” Trump tweeted Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were supposed to sit down with Trump last week, but that was postponed because of the death of former President George H.W. Bush. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made clear that the impasse needs to be ironed out among Trump, Chuck and Nancy.
Schumer and Pelosi said today in a statement preceding their meeting, though, that Trump should head into the meeting with his wall dreams dampened.
“Republicans still control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open. Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown, especially at this time of economic uncertainty,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “This holiday season, the president knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), speaking earlier on Fox News, framed the impasse as Pelosi being “with the open borders crowd — the people that don’t want any borders, that don’t want ICE agents.”
“I think what’s happening right now, the Democrats in the House are being held hostage by the extreme radicals on the left. This isn’t mainstream. Most of this country, wherever they are on DACA, believes we ought to secure the border,” Scalise said. “Let’s deal with immigration. The president was willing to put a lot of things on the table to negotiate with Democrats in exchange for wall funding and they walked away. They said they don’t want to do anything because the extreme left doesn’t want to do anything. They want open borders. That’s the dilemma Nancy Pelosi is in right now.”
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) told Fox that Trump “would be correct in vetoing any bill that we send him that doesn’t provide him the dollar figure” he requested.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will serve as majority leader come January, told the National Immigrant Integration Conference today that it’s going to be a priority in the next Congress to “get immigration bills passed as early as possible,” including a DREAM Act to protect certain illegal immigrants brought to the country as children and legislation to preserve Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from certain countries at risk of being sent back to their homelands.
“In the new reality of divided government, it will be up to Senate Republicans and the president to decide whether to work with us on keeping DREAMers and TPS holders here or stand in the way of what’s right,” Hoyer said. “I hope they choose to work with us.”