WASHINGTON – The Senate’s top Republican said Tuesday he’s confident that lawmakers and the White House will be able to avoid a government shutdown even though Democrats have rejected the GOP’s proposal for ending the impasse.
“I think there’s certainly bipartisan support for avoiding a government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “We’re now trying to figure out the way forward.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is exploring “different” sources to pay for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, the White House said Tuesday in a potential sign the administration is backing away from a confrontation with Congress days before a partial government shutdown.
“There are certainly a number of different funding sources that we’ve identified that we can use, that we can couple with money that would be given through congressional appropriations that would help us get to that $5 billion that the president needs in order to protect our border,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News.
“At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border,” she said.
Later at the White House, Trump was asked by reporters if there would be a government shutdown. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Too early to say.”
Lawmakers have until midnight Friday to pass a spending measure or shut down some federal agencies. But negotiations are caught up in a fight over Trump’s demand for $5 billion to pay for the southern border wall he promised to build during his campaign.
Negotiations were ongoing Tuesday. A Democratic aide said McConnell proposed approving a pending bill that includes $1.6 billion for border fencing along with an additional $1 billion for immigration. Democrats described the additional funding as a “slush fund” and said they had spurned the offer.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi also dismissed the GOP proposal, saying it would allow Trump to continue “his very wrong immigration policies.”
“That won’t happen,” she told reporters.
McConnell said he thought the proposal “was reasonable to both sides” but that he is talking to the White House about the next step now that Democrats rejected the offer.
“The administration is extremely flexible on this issue,” he said.
Trump has previously suggested that Mexico would pay for the wall. Earlier this year, he floated the idea that the military would build it. Sanders did not say what specific source of funding the White House is considering for the wall.
Sanders told reporters that the administration has “asked every Cabinet secretary to look for funding” but declined to say whether the White House would accept something less than $5 billion.
“We want to see what the Senate can pass,” Sanders told reporters at the White House. “We’re disappointed in the process and their inability to put something forward.”
Trump deployed 5,600 active-duty troops to the border this fall ahead of the midterm election to address a caravan of Central Americans making its way toward the U.S. The Pentagon estimated in November that the deployment has cost $210 million. The number of active-duty troops has since fallen to about 3,000.
….People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook
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