Democrats Try to Box In Trump With Plan to End Government Shutdown Without Wall Funding

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, has asserted that Democrats would not cave on the issue of wall funding. Erin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are putting forward a proposal to reopen the federal government by severing funding for the Department of Homeland Security and border security from other spending bills that enjoy bipartisan support — a gambit aimed at forcing President Trump to negotiate or to shoulder the blame for a protracted shutdown.

The Democrats’ plan, which will come up for a vote on Thursday when they take control of the House, consists of two bills. The first includes six bipartisan spending measures that would fully fund agencies like the Interior Department and the Internal Revenue Service through the end of the fiscal year in September.

The second would extend homeland security funding at current levels through Feb. 8, including $1.3 billion for fencing but no funding for Mr. Trump’s border wall — a provision that renders it dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.

By splitting off the homeland security bill, Democrats are opening the door to a month of negotiations. But they are also essentially daring Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, to keep a big chunk of the government shuttered over the president’s demand for the wall. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who is expected to be sworn in as speaker on Thursday, challenged Republicans in a joint statement on Monday.

“If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to support the first bill, then they are complicit with President Trump in continuing the Trump shutdown and in holding the health and safety of the American people and workers’ paychecks hostage over the wall,” the statement said, adding that rejecting the bill would be “the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism.”

Mr. Trump continued to dig in on New Year’s Eve, venting his frustrations in tweets and in a Fox News interview as the shutdown stretched into its 10th day and as furloughed federal workers were about to miss their paychecks on Wednesday.

“I spent Christmas in the White House, I spent New Year’s Eve now in the White House,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News, according to excerpts released. “And you know, I’m here, I’m ready to go. It’s very important. A lot of people are looking to get their paycheck, so I’m ready to go whenever they want.”

The president made building a “big beautiful” wall along the southern border a central promise of his 2016 campaign, and he is concerned that if he gives in on wall funding, his political base will revolt.

“I campaigned on Border Security, which you cannot have without a strong and powerful Wall,” Mr. Trump wrote Monday morning on Twitter. “Our Southern Border has long been an ‘Open Wound,’ where drugs, criminals (including human traffickers) and illegals would pour into our Country.”

In a tweet Monday night, he added that “some things NEVER get better” over time: “You have Walls and you have Wheels. It was ALWAYS that way and it will ALWAYS be that way! Please explain to the Democrats that there can NEVER be a replacement…


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