Democrats announce plan to reopen gov’t, but without funds for Trump’s wall

Joggers pass near the US Capitol in Washington, DC on 31 December 2018. EFE/EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

Joggers pass near the US Capitol in Washington, DC on 31 December 2018. EFE/EPA/ERIK S. LESSER


Democratic congressional leaders on Monday announced a plan to try and fully reopen the government starting on Jan. 3 - when they will take control of the House of Representatives - albeit without complying with President Donald Trump ‘s demand that funds be included in the budget to build his much-touted wall along the US-Mexico border .

“This legislation reopens government services, ensures workers get the paychecks they’ve earned and restores certainty to the lives of the American people,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi , both Democrats , in a communique.

The Democrats are planning to approve a temporary budget bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, increasing the funding for frontier barriers and other measures by $1.3 billion, far from the $5 billion Trump has insisted upon to build the wall.

“While President Trump drags the nation into Week Two of the Trump Shutdown and sits in the White House and tweets, without offering any plan that can pass both chambers of Congress, Democrats are taking action to lead our country out of this mess,” said Schumer and Pelosi.

According to the statement, the proposal consists of six bills to finance the government through 2019 and one that authorizes funds for Homeland Security through Feb. 8.

“If (Senate Majority) Leader (Mitch) 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,” said the Democratic leaders.

“It would be the height of irresponsibility and political cynicism for Senate Republicans to now reject the same legislation they have already supported,” they added.

“Once the Senate passes this legislation and puts us on a path to reopening government, the President must come to his senses and immediately sign it into law,” Schumer and Pelosi concluded.

On Monday, Trump called upon Democratic lawmakers to return from their year-end recess to vote for more budget funds for border security, thus reopening the portions of the government that are shut down.

“I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall. You voted yes in 2006 and 2013. One more yes, but with me in office, I’ll get it built, and Fast!” said Trump on his official Twitter account.

Trump said that a “properly built” wall along the southern border will serve to cut illegal immigration by “almost 100 percent” and prevent drug and arms trafficking along the frontier as well.

“It’s incredible how Democrats can all use their ridiculous sound bite and say that a Wall doesn’t work. It does, and properly built, almost 100%! They say it’s old technology - but so is the wheel. They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!” Trump tweeted, evidently referring to the deaths of two young Guatemalan migrants in December after being apprehended by US border agents.

The administration entered its third partial shutdown on Dec. 22 after negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats reached an impasse because of Trump’s demand that the budget include more than $5 billion for his much-touted wall along the US-Mexico border.

Specifically, the government paralysis affects agencies in 10 departments, including Transportation and Justice, as well as dozens of national parks, which are normally a great tourist attraction.

The closure also idles some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers, who will not receive paychecks while their departments and agencies are shut down due to a lack of funding.