Politics

Senate funding vote: Congress voting on federal government funding bill, Trump expected to declare national emergency to build border wall – live updates

The White House said Thursday afternoon President Trump will sign a compromise bill to fund border security, but he will declare a national emergency to build the wall. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill Thursday evening.

After weeks of deliberations, the bipartisan conference committee negotiating funding for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies whose funding expires Friday night finally finished its work, including $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southern border. It also completes the six other appropriations bills to fund the roughly 25 percent of federal government that shut down for 35 days.

Text of the 1,159-page bill was released late Wednesday night. The House and Senate are expected to vote on it Thursday.

Follow along for live updates.


Pelosi signs bill at enrollment ceremony

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the bill at an enrollment ceremony, which allows the bill to be passed to the president for final signature.

Mr. Trump is expected to sign the bill on Friday.

House passes funding bill

By a vote of 300 yeas to 128 nays, the House has passed the border security and other appropriations funding bill.

House passes procedural vote on bill

The House passed a procedural vote to advance the bill by a vote of 230 to 196. Some more progressive Democrats, such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, voted against the bill because it funds Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The House now moves into an hour of debate on the package before the final vote.

Could Congress block a national emergency declaration?

Democrats are already threatening to block a national emergency declaration to build the wall, including through legal actions. But there is a pathway for Congress to overrule such a declaration.

However, it would require a rare amount of bipartisanship. Congress would have to approve a joint resolution disapproving the national emergency, which would easily pass the Democratic-controlled House but could face opposition in the Republican-majority Senate. If both houses pass the joint resolution, it would require the president’s signature, and Mr. Trump would be unlikely to sign a bill which overturns his own declaration.

Congress would then have to pass the joint resolution with a veto-proof majority, meaning that two-thirds of both houses would have to approve the bill.

Democratic attorneys general respond to Trump’s call for a national emergency

6:26 p.m.: The Democratic Attorneys General Association released a statement responding to Mr. Trump’s promise to call for a national emergency to build the wall. Democratic attorney generals across the country have brought forward lawsuits which have thwarted some administration goals.

“We will review the emergency powers the President specifies and will determine how this so-called “national emergency” affects our states, especially those that share a border with Mexico,” the statement said. “As Democratic Attorneys General have repeatedly demonstrated, we will not hesitate to use our legal authority to defend the rule of law, as we did in our previous lawsuits, such as protecting DACA recipients and standing up against the President’s attempts to separate children from their families.”

Trump could use unobligated funds to pay for wall

Reporting by David Martin

There is a total of $21 billion in unobligated funds in the military construction budget stretching back over the last five years, according to two congressional aides. Unobligated funds are money Congress has approved for specific construction projects but which hasn’t yet been spent.

For instance, Congress has approved a new $1 billion medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, where the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan have been taken, and so far $600 million has been spent. None of the money — $10 billion – in the 2019 budget has been spent. The projects are listed at the back of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

A statute in Title X of the U.S. Code allows the to “undertake military construction projects” which are “necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

Once he declares a national emergency, Mr. Trump can essentially spend that money as he wants, except that it must be used for the support of the armed forces. How a wall would support the armed forces is not clear, although armed forces are deployed at the border. The money is also only good for five years after it is appropriated by Congress.

Military construction is different from the civilian projects run by the Army Corps of Engineers such as dredging harbors and building dams. Another statute allows the Pentagon to “apply the resources of the Department of the Army’s civil works program,” and to reprogram those resources “to construct or assist in the construction, operation, maintenance, and repair of authorized civil works, military construction, and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense.”

Despite its name, the Army Corps of Engineers is made up almost entirely of civilians who administer construction contracts, so troops wouldn’t actually be building the wall. It’s unclear how many unobligated funds the Army Corps of Engineers has in its budget.

One other source of Pentagon money is the $800 million in counternarcotics money.

Last month, Pentagon officials were saying they had identified $2.9 billion in unobligated military construction funds and $700 million in unobligated counternarcotics funds.

Republican congresswoman tweets opposition to national emergency

5 p.m.: Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers posted a statement opposing Mr. Trump’s planned national emergency to Twitter, saying that it is “not the right approach to achieve our shared goals.”

“I do not support this decision because declaring a national emergency sets a very dangerous president that undermines our constitutional separation of powers,” McMorris Rodgers said, adding that it would open the door for future presidents to call national emergencies on any topic.

“If elected president, how would Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders use this precedent for a national disaster declaration to force the Green New Deal on the American people?” she asked, referring to the progressive bill to combat climate change.

Pelosi, Schumer release statement against national emergency

4:40 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement slamming Mr. Trump for his plan to call a national emergency to build the wall.

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall,” Pelosi and Schumer said, saying that Mr. Trump showed “naked contempt for the rule of law.”

“He couldn’t convince Mexico, the American people or their elected representatives to pay for his ineffective and expensive wall, so now he’s trying an end-run around Congress in a desperate attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for it,” the statement continued.

Senate passes border security funding bill

4:22 p.m.: The Senate has passed the border security funding bill, which needed a simple majority to pass. It passed with broad bipartisan support, 83 to 16.

The House will vote on the bill later this evening.

Senate passes procedural vote to advance bill

3:59 p.m.: The Senate has passed a procedural vote to advance the bill for a floor vote, 84 to 15.

Senators who voted against the bill included Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom are running for president in 2020. Some conservatives also opposed the vote to advance the bill, including Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.

Pelosi says that she may file legal challenge to Trump’s national emergency

3:45 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her weekly press conference that she was considering filing a legal challenge to Mr. Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build the wall.

“I may, we’ll review our options when a president declares this emergency, first of all it’s not an emergency what’s happening at the border, it’s a humanitarian challenge,” Pelosi said. She also indicated that Republicans concerned about executive power may also oppose calling a national emergency.

“We’re prepared to respond appropriately to it. I know some Republicans have some unease about it no matter what they say, because if a president can declare an emergency on something he’s created, an illusion of what he wants to convey, just think what the president with different values can present,” Pelosi said.

She also disagreed with Mr. Trump that the situation on the border was worthy of a national emergency. “Let’s talk about today, the one-year anniversary” of the Parkland shooting. “Why don’t you declare that a national emergency? I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that,” she said, addressing Mr. Trump.

She added that the House would also not vote before 6:30 p.m., as many House members needed to return from North Carolina, where the funeral for Rep. Walter Jones was held Thursday afternoon.

Sanders says Trump will sign bill, call national emergency

3:34 p.m.: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Mr. Trump will be signing the bill and calling a national emergency to “ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action – including a national emergency – to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” Sanders said. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”

Schumer slams Trump for allowing an “unnecessary” shutdown

3:20 p.m.: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated Mr. Trump for allowing a 35-day government shutdown which saw 800,000 federal employees furloughed or without pay. Mr. Trump initially refused to sign a funding bill which did not include money for a border wall. He and Congress eventually agreed to a three-week continuing resolution to keep the government open.

Before the shutdown, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had offered Mr. Trump $1.375 billion for border fencing. That same amount is in the bill which Mr. Trump is set to sign this evening, although he will also be declaring a national emergency to obtain the remainder of the necessary funding.

“Let this be a lesson: government shutdowns don’t work,” Schumer said.

Schumer later slammed the president’s move to declare a national emergency, calling it a “lawless act” a “gross abuse of this power” and a “desperate attempt to distract from the fact that he broke from his promise to get Mexico to pay for the wall.”

Democrats introduce bill making it harder for Trump to build wall through national emergency

3:18 p.m.: Shortly before McConnell announced Mr. Trump was calling a national emergency to circumvent congressional funding to build a border wall, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee announced a bill which would make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to build the wall without congressional approval.

The bill would take away the “overly broad authority” granted to the Department of Homeland Security to waive legal requirements to build a wall on the border. Another bill introduced would set up a set up a $20 million legal fund for homeowners on the border who could have their properties seized for construction. A third bill would assure full compensation for all landowners on the border.

McConnell says Trump will sign bill and call a national emergency

3:08 p.m.: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that President Trump will sign the bill and declare a national emergency to build the wall.

“I’ve just had the opportunity to speak with President Trump and…he’s prepared to sign the bill. He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time and I’ve indicated to him I’m going to support the national emergency declaration,” McConnell said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the deal at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Freshman Dems come out against funding bill

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib said in a statement that they will vote against the bill because it gives money to ICE.

“We want to be abundantly clear: this is not a rebuke of federal workers or those who depend on the services they provide, but a rejection of the hateful policies, priorities, and rhetoric of the Trump Administration,” the congresswomen said.

They added, “This Administration continues to threaten the dignity and humanity of our immigrant population. The Department of Homeland Security has separated thousands of children from their parents, denied asylum to those fleeing danger, and used taxpayers dollars as a slush fund to incite terror in immigrant communities. The efficacy of a government agency must be determined by assessing ‘outcomes.’ By any reasonable measure, Donald Trump’s weaponization of ICE and CBP has been a failure. The Department of Homeland Security does not deserve an increase in funding, and that is why we intend to vote no on this funding package.”

House Freedom Caucus urges Trump to use executive authority to build wall

Four leading members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group that railed against President Obama’s use of executive authority to accomplish what he could not legislatively, urged Mr. Trump to use executive action to build his border wall.

House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, Rep. Andy Biggs, Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Jim Jordan wrote to the president Wednesday, saying, “If you feel the need to sign the legislation we also urge you to immediately use your authority pursuant to Title X, Sections 284 and 2808, to access funds to begin building a much-needed border wall,” the letter says. “We support your use of the authority delegated to you as president by the United States Congress to use federal funds to protect the American people.”

What’s in the bill?

In addition to Homeland Security, the legislation reflects conference agreements for six other appropriations bills: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies.

Here’s a look at what’s in the bill:

Highlights of the bill:

  • $1.375 billion for 55 miles of bollard fencing along the southern border and Rio Grande Valley of Texas;
  • Funding for 40,520 ICE detention beds by the end of the fiscal year, a reduction from the current 49,060;
  • $415 million for enhanced medical support, transportation, food and clothing for migrants who are in detention centers;
  • $900 million for enhanced inspections at ports of entry, new technology, opioid detection and customs officers;
  • Funding for a new Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter;
  • A 1.9 percent pay raise for federal civilian workers (overriding President Trump’s order to deny them a pay raise);
  • $100 million for border security technology between the ports on U.S. southern and northern borders, such as mobile surveillance capability and innovative towers (surveillance towers that are able to differentiate between people and vehicles and whether they’re carrying weapons or drugs)
  • $564 million for non-intrusive inspection equipment at land ports of entry to scan vehicles entering the U.S. for narcotics and other contraband;
  • $563.4 million to hire new immigration judges to reduce the backlog of cases;
  • $527.6 million to support the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, a program focused on addressing the causes of migration of undocumented Central Americans to the U.S.;
  • $191 million for new infrastructure at the Calexico land port of entry;
  • $112.6 million for aircraft and sensor systems, including $86 million for 3 additional multi-role enforcement aircraft;
  • $14.5 million for integrated coastal interceptor vessels for patrolling U.S. maritime borders; and
  • $76.9 million for countering opioids with detection equipment and staffing at international mail facilities.

What it does NOT include:

  • Back pay for federal contractors affected by the shutdown;
  • An extension of the Violence Against Women Act (though it does include nearly $500 million in grant money for VAWA programs);
  • No increase in total fencing money compared to fiscal year 2018 (the appropriation is $1.375 billion);
  • Funding can’t be used for any concrete wall or other Trump wall prototypes. Only “existing technologies” for fencing or barriers can be used

Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Cordes contributed to this report

Trump says he has options people don’t understand to build the wall

President Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office alongside the Colombian president Wednesday, said he has options most people don’t understand to build the wall.

It’s unclear just what those options the administration is considering, are.

The president insisted the deal has $23 billion for border security, calling Democrats “stingy” on the issue.

Mr. Trump also warned that the White House would be “looking for landmines” in the bill before signing the legislation.

Appropriators finish writing bill to fund government

The Appropriations Committees finished writing the final text of the legislation to fund the federal government late Wednesday evening. House conferees were given an hour to view the bill text, and after that, Rep. Nita Lowey, the House Appropriations Committee chair, was expected to file the legislation in the House, a Democratic aide told CBS News.

The Senate is expected to pass the legislation first on Thursday. Following Senate passage, the measure will come to the House for passage. That vote is expected Thursday evening after 6:30 p.m., following the funerals of Rep. Walter Jones and former Rep. John Dingell.

Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Cordes




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