Congress returns to Washington

The Capitol is seen as New Year’s Day comes to a close with the partial government shutdown in its second week, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The new House majority led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi gavels into session this week with legislation ready to end the government shutdown. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger

Lawmakers return to work on today seeking a solution to the spending fight that has shuttered a quarter of the government for going on 12 days now.

While there’s no agreement in sight, President Trump has invited the top two leaders from both parties in the House and Senate to the White House for a border security briefing today.

If it takes place, it would be the first time the president has met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) since their lively Dec. 11 encounter in the Oval Office.

At that gathering for the cameras, Trump declared he would not back down from his demand of $5.7 billion for a border wall. He said he’d take full responsibility for the partial shutdown if Congress didn’t approve the funding. Trump subsequently blamed Democrats.

In a statement Tuesday night, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president believes a “Pelosi plan” to reopen the government is “a non-starter” because it “fails to secure the border and puts the needs of other countries above the needs of our own citizens.”

The dynamics of the spending fight will shift dramatically over the next 24 hours.

Lawmakers in both chambers close the books on the 115th Congress today.

On Thursday, the 116th Congress will convene. Democrats will have a majority in the House and are expected to elect Pelosi as Speaker for her second turn in the top job.

One of Pelosi’s first actions in the next Congress will be to bring legislation to the floor to fund the full government, but with no additional money for a border wall.

The California Democrat outlined her plan in a Tuesday letter to lawmakers:

“On Thursday, House Democrats will take action to end the Trump Shutdown, as we pass strong, bipartisan legislation to reopen government, which has already received strong bipartisan support in the Senate … The package contains two bills. One consists of 6 bills already approved by the Republicans in the Senate, which would reopen all government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security with full fiscal-year funding until September 30. The second bill would extend the Department of Homeland Security’s funding through February 8th, which is the date the Senate voted for unanimously. It is important to note that these bills contain no new wall funding.”

Read more about the legislation incoming House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)  introduced HERE.

Unless Trump has a change of heart, the Democratic spending package would die on his desk and the impasse would continue. Both sides are bracing for a prolonged shutdown.

The Associated Press: Tops on House Dems’ to-do list: Try to end shutdown.

The Hill: Five fights awaiting Trump, Congress in 2019.

%d bloggers like this: