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Without Funding For Border Security, Trump Refuses To Pass Short Term Spending Bill


To another story now - last night it looked as though Congress was on the verge of avoiding a government shutdown. The Senate had passed a bill that would fund parts of the government until February. The House was set to vote on that bill today, but then President Trump announced he will not sign any funding bill that leaves out the $5 billion he wants for a wall on the border with Mexico. Now it appears that parts of the government could shut down at the end of the week.

NPR's Kelsey Snell joins me now from Capitol Hill. Hello again, Kelsey.


KELLY: Hello. So Congress was looking so close to reaching this deal that would keep the government open. What's the very latest? Where does it stand?

SNELL: Well, yeah, we talked about - the Senate has passed this spending bill by a voice vote with overwhelming support. But conservatives in the House were really opposed to that even before the vote happened, and things went downhill fast today. And as we said, President Trump in that White House meeting with Republicans bluntly said he wouldn't sign a spending bill without the border wall. So Republicans came back to the Capitol after meeting with the president, went back to the drawing board and tried to figure out a way to put it all back together in a bill that he might sign.

KELLY: But the House is voting on something tonight. What exactly are they voting on?

SNELL: They are voting on that short-term spending bill...


SNELL: ...The thing that would go through February 8. But it now would include $5 billion for the border wall and $8 billion in disaster funding - things for wildfires and hurricanes, things like that. Basically they took all of their cues directly from Trump, and he made it very clear that border security was his priority. He repeated it today at a signing ceremony at the White House for the farm bill. And I think we have a little bit of that.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: At this moment, there is a debate over funding border security and the wall also called so that I give them a little bit of an out steel slats.

SNELL: So you hear that there. He's talking about a wall. He's talking about steel slats. He's basically giving them every opportunity to call it whatever they want as long as it's money for border security. And the Republicans are doing their best to deliver what he's demanding.

KELLY: OK, but whatever you call it - wall, steel slats, border security, whatever - Democrats are saying they're not going to vote for it, and this isn't going to pass in the Senate. So what happens if the House passes this with this $5 billion in there?

SNELL: That is the big question. And it is definitely still true that Democrats won't vote for it because Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer just had a press conference a little bit ago where they repeated that Democrats will not vote for this bill. And Republicans simply can't pass a spending bill in the Senate without them. You need 60 votes to pass a bill in the Senate, and Republicans don't have that many votes. Schumer seemed pretty exasperated, and he blamed Trump again.


CHUCK SCHUMER: President Trump is throwing a temper tantrum and creating the Trump shutdown of the government.

SNELL: Hear that - the Trump shutdown, temper tantrum. This...

KELLY: They want him to own it.

SNELL: They want him to own it. And he said he would.

KELLY: I mean, these past 48 hours have been chaotic even by current Washington standards. Why is the president open to owning a shutdown just days before Christmas?

SNELL: That is the question that Republicans and Democrats are both asking. They don't want to do this. Here in Congress, they have been saying for weeks now that they could pass a spending bill if it was up to them and if only they believed that the president would sign it. They're also really, really worried about the president leaving tomorrow for Mar-a-Lago in Florida. They don't love the idea of seeing the president on the golf links while there is a shutdown, while border security agents are working without a paycheck or TSA agents are, you know, getting people to their flights for the holidays but not actually getting paid. This is bad optics all around, and it is adding to the sense that there is chaos all over Washington.

KELLY: NPR's Kelsey Snell reporting from Capitol Hill one of those points of chaos in Washington right now. Thanks, Kelsey.

SNELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.