House passes spending bill with $5 billion border wall funding, increasing likelihood of shutdown

House passes bill, sets up showdown with Senate

Reporting by Bo Erickson, Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Cordes

Hoping to avert a government shutdown, House Republicans on Thursday passed a stopgap spending measure that included $5 billion for a southern border wall, putting it at odds with the Senate and increasing the likelihood of a government shutdown. No Democrats supported the measure. 

The Senate bill that passed Wednesday did not include the money for the border wall funding. The bill is considered dead on arrival in the Senate, which requires a 60-vote majority for passage. If it fails in the Senate, House leadership will have to decide whether they want to vote on a clean short-term funding bill on the floor -- one without additional border wall or disaster funding. That would probably pass with almost entirely Democratic votes and a few Republican votes, sending it to the president's desk.  

Mr. Trump said earlier Thursday that he would not sign the Senate bill passed Wednesday which would keep the government funded through February. Though the White House had suggested Wednesday that the president could find other sources of funding for the wall, his conservative allies railed against a bill without wall funding, and Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, urged him to veto such a bill. 

"I've made my position very clear: any measure that funds the government must include border security," Mr. Trump said in relatively lengthy remarks on border security at the farm bill signing Thursday afternoon. 

After he met with the president Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan reported that Mr. Trump was unwilling to sign the Senate bill. Ryan said that the House Republicans would rework their bill to include wall funding.

"We're going to go back and work on adding border security to this also keeping the government open because we want to see an agreement," Ryan said.

Trump Republican Leaders
House Speaker Paul Ryan, right, accompanied by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy speak to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, following a meeting with President Trump on border security. Andrew Harnik / AP

Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney and House Freedom Caucus leaders Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows met with Mr. Trump at noon.

The president had already added a sense of uncertainty to the prospects for the bill when he tweeted Thursday morning, "When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership. Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn't happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries - but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!"

Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Republicans are in "disarray" right now. Pelosi on Thursday also said that additional wall funding would be a "non-starter." 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterated Thursday that Democrats would not be willing to support $5 billion in wall funding.

"Democrats are not budging on the wall. We favor smart, effective border security, not a medieval wall," Schumer said. "They can, having caught the Trump temper tantrum fever, jump up and down, yell and scream. It is not going to get a wall. And they, neither Mr. Meadows or Mr. Jordan have outlined any conceivable plan on how to achieve what they say they want to achieve." 

Adding to the uncertainty, senators were told Wednesday night that they could leave at their discretion. A not insignificant number of them have apparently already left town or are preparing to do so. Now that the House has passed a new bill, it's not certain that senators will come back to Washington for a vote.

After meeting with Mr. Trump, House Republicans worked through the afternoon to present their alternative funding bill that includes the president's $5 billion for border wall funding and $8 billion dollars for disaster relief funding for parts of the country struck hard by storms and fires in the past year, said GOP whip Rep. Steve Scalise.  

In all, the House Republicans most loyal to Mr. Trump see this funding fight as the last-ditch effort to build the border wall before Democrats take control of the House next year. 

"The wall fight fill continue on, but I'm not as optimistic about winning when you have control of the House, the Senate and the White House," Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

Grace Segers contributed reporting