Washington — House Republican leaders urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers to negotiate "in good faith" to hammer out a budget agreement and avert another government shutdown in less than three weeks.
"It's time for Nancy Pelosi to actually start negotiating in good faith," Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana told reporters on Tuesday following the weekly House GOP leadership meeting.
Last week, President Trump backed off his rigid stance on border-wall funding and signed a measure to fund the government for three weeks. The agreement ended a 35-day standoff in budget negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders and brought a temporary reprieve to across nine federal departments who had been furloughed or working without pay.
But part of the government could close again if lawmakers fail to broker a broader budget agreement before the stopgap spending bill expires on Feb. 15. On Monday, Pelosi and Mr. Trump spoke for the first time since a contentious meeting on border security on Jan. 9, but the speaker said they did not discuss funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — one of the president's signature campaign pledges.
Scalise urged Pelosi to bring up a Republican-backed spending bill up for a vote or unveil an "evidence-based" counter-offer now that the government is open. He added that any legislation needs to address the "crisis" near the southwestern border and include funding for barriers to bolster security in some areas of the frontier.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California accused Pelosi of being "out of step" with some members of her caucus, saying many rank-and-file Democrats support barrier construction as a part of a comprehensive strategy to secure the border. McCarthy added that representatives from both parties need to make sure the government does not close again.
A bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators tasked with brokering longer-term funding legislation for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), largely made up of appropriators with experience on committees with oversight of DHS, have their first meeting on Wednesday.
"I don't want to sit here in three weeks, and say that we're at a status quo," McCarthy said.
Rebecca Kaplan contributed reporting.