The fight over funding President Trump’s border barriers led to a 35-day shutdown, the longest ever, last December and January. With appropriators now working on spending decisions for fiscal 20202, and the issue of wall funding again emerging as a landmine on the path to any progress, lawmakers are exploring an option to defuse at least part of the threat, The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Duehren reports:
“Officials on Capitol Hill crafting spending legislation are considering extending current funding for the Department of Homeland Security—which oversees construction of the wall—for another year, according to several people familiar with the deliberations. By simply continuing to fund the department at current levels, lawmakers could skip the contentious process of negotiating new funding for the wall, one of President Trump’s central legislative priorities.”
An extension of current DHS funding might help ease the passage of other funding bills, but it wouldn’t necessarily head off all clashes over barrier funding.
Democrats have a couple of big problems with providing money for the wall. First, they argue the wall is ineffective and an inefficient use of money. Second, they object to the Trump administration’s diverting funds provided by Congress for other uses toward barrier construction — and to GOP lawmakers’ efforts to backfill those diverted funds.
Simply extending DHS funding for another year wouldn’t address that second concern, and as the Journal notes, Democratic efforts to block the administration from shifting money toward Trump’s wall have already caused some turmoil in other parts of the Senate appropriations process.
The Journal’s Duehren notes that discussions of a DHS funding extension are “relatively preliminary” and that the White House and some key lawmakers may not be ready to go that route.