Aides to carry on federal budget talks through weekend
by Harvest Prude
Posted 1/04/19, 02:57 pm
UPDATE: After a two-hour meeting with top congressional leaders Friday, President Donald Trump stood firm on his demands for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border but said he would keep working toward a compromise with lawmakers. “This is national security we’re talking about,” the president said at a news conference. “We’re not playing games. We have to do it.” Trump did not mention fully reopening the government, but he said he was sending White House aides to meet with congressional staff over the weekend for negotiations on the budget impasse, which led to the shutdown of some federal departments and agencies two weeks ago.
Friday was the second time Trump met with congressional leaders this week. So far, neither side has shown signs of budging from its original position. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters after the meeting, “We can’t resolve this until we open up the government, and we made that very clear.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump indicated he would “keep the government closed for a very long time. Months or even years.”
Ahead of the meeting, the president released a letter and a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the border to members of Congress. “Walls work,” the letter said. “That’s why rich, powerful and successful people build them around their homes.”
OUR EARLIER REPORT (12:26 p.m.): Congressional leaders are meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday to discuss the impasse over border wall funding that has resulted in a two-week partial government shutdown. The 116th Congress convened Thursday, splitting control between Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earned her second stint as speaker of the House to preside over a Democratic majority of 235 to 199 Republicans. One seat remains vacant due to an ongoing investigation into possible election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th District.
Thursday evening, Democrats passed a spending package to reopen the government with no additional funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the package a nonstarter and said the upper chamber would not take up any legislation unlikely to earn White House support. In a press briefing Thursday, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to securing funding for the wall. Part of the House package would have funded the departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. A separate measure would have supported the Department of Homeland Security, with $1.3 billion for border security, through Feb. 8.
The House also passed a new rules package Thursday that eliminated the need for a supermajority to pass federal income tax changes, established a climate change committee, provided a religious headwear exemption to the lawmaker dress code, and reinstated “pay-as-you-go” requirements, also called “pay-go” rules, which require an increase in spending be offset by cuts in other programs or tax hikes to stop the federal deficit from growing. The move replaces Republicans’ “cut-go” rules that require spending increases be offset only by cuts to other spending, not tax hikes. The pay-go rules stirred up controversy among a minority of progressive House Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who argued the rule would hamper passing high-cost legislation like “Medicare-for-all.” Despite three Democratic defections, the rules package passed 234-197.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.