Pres. Trump keeps up pressure on Dems over border wall

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is expected to introduce a two-week temporary funding bill to avert a federal government shutdown this week over President Donald Trump's border wall as business in the Capitol comes to a standstill for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush.

The stop-gap measure would keep the government funded through Dec. 21, according to a House Republican aide familiar with the package.

Trump kept up pressure Monday on congressional Democrats funding for his promised border wall, but he also threatened other actions to deter illegal immigration as negotiations continue.

"Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally!" Trump tweeted. "We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary."

The two sides were heading for a showdown Dec. 7 when funding for a portion of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, is set to expire.

House leaders canceled roll call votes this week for ceremonies honoring Bush, who died Friday, meaning an extension will be needed to avert a funding lapse.

While Democrats prefer a one-week extension, they likely would not object to a two-week delay, a Democratic aide said Monday. The congressional aides asked not to be identified because no decisions have been announced.

Democrats have little interest in providing the $5 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico. And even some Republicans balk at spending more than the $1.6 billion for fencing and other security improvements already provided. But Trump has signaled he's ready to fight for the money as one of the last big-ticket items of the GOP-led Congress before Democrats take over the House in the new year.

Trump tweeted Monday: "We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall." He did not provide any evidence for the savings, but again threatened to close the "entire Southern Border if necessary."

The president invited the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to the White House for a meeting Tuesday, but a Democratic aide said that in light of Bush's funeral and other events, Democrats have asked the White House to postpone the meeting until next week.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Saturday he would be willing to sign a two-week funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring Bush.

"I would absolutely consider it and probably give it," Trump told reporters. The White House is expecting that to be between seven and 14 days, said a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Schumer has suggested one option would be for Trump to accept the Senate's $1.6 billion bipartisan border security package, along with the remaining $1.3 billion from the current fiscal year that has not yet been spent.

The country shouldn't have to endure a shutdown over "Trump's temper tantrum," Schumer said last week.

The GOP-led House has not yet approved a Homeland Security funding bill.

Besides the funding bill, Congress is considering a sweeping criminal justice package with sentencing reforms, a farm bill that's a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other items before they adjourn for the year.

McConnell told reporters over the weekend that it's up to Trump "to do a deal with the Democrats." He said, "I think that's the path to getting a signature and avoiding a government shutdown."

Nearly three-quarters of the federal government has been funded for the fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30, 2019, but the stalemate remains over wall funding and several remaining federal agencies. Federal funding for those is set to expire at midnight on Friday.



 
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