Democrats Want to Pass 6 Funding Bills, But 'Isolate' the Wall Funding 'Problem'

By Susan Jones | January 2, 2019 | 5:49am EST
Congress begins a new session under cloudy skies this week. (File Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

( - When Democrats take control of the House this week, they plan to pass legislation funding six government agencies, which would reopen most of the government.

A second bill, a short-term continuing resolution, would extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, thereby "isolating" the wall funding disagreement.


Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) explained the strategy on New Year's Day, during an appearance on CNN:

Well, I think what we hope will happen is, look, there's broad consensus on the six funding bills. They're bipartisan. The Senate already approved that spending 100-0.

So those departments, we ought to just fund them to the end of the fiscal year, which is what one package will be. Let's isolate the disagreement, the Department of Homeland Security. We will propose and we will pass a piece of legislation that will provide current funding of $1.3 billion for border security until February 8.

That will give us an opportunity to engage in additional discussions with the Republicans, but let's isolate the problem. The other six departments, let's open those up, let's act like adults, as Leader Pelosi, Speaker-Designee Pelosi said. We will do that right away. We will reopen the government.

Those six bills hopefully will pass both the House and the Senate. The president should sign them. There's no dispute on those issues. Then the remaining Department of Homeland Security where there's a disagreement, let's keep the current level and engage in real discussions to see if we can reach agreement.

It is a perfectly sensible way to approach it that will reopen the government and ensure over 800,000 employees that are being affected by this can have their lives back, and the president can engage with the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate and try to come up with a solution.

Also on New Year's Day, President Trump indicated he is open to some kind of a deal, tweeting:

Border Security and the Wall “thing” and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?

(Fox News reported that President Trump has invited congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to attend a DHS briefing on the border wall.)

Both Cicilline and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) insist that Democrats do support border security, as long as it doesn't include a wall.

"Democrats supported almost $1.7 billion over the last two years in border security," Cicilline said. "We support securing our borders. We think it should be done in a smart way, using technology, drones, satellites, cargo inspections, things that will actually work -- more personnel.

"We don't think a concrete wall, which is a 19th century solution for a 21st century problem, makes sense. And I think, again, the suggestion that Democrats somehow don't support border security is just not true."

Dingell, also appearing on CNN Tuesday, said she wants a border security package "that's going to work."

"We had hundreds of studies. So why aren't we increasing the number of border patrol, the amount of officers at the border? What about looking at drones and other technology to actually keep the border safe?

"And people are already talking about problems with the walls, tunneling underneath. Let's sit down, get the experts at the table, and agree to something. This wall has become a symbol of total breakdown in Washington, which we've got to stop."

Dingell said she doesn't think compromise is a "dirty word," and she indicated that she might go along with some wall funding (she refused to specify a number) in exchange for comprehensive immigration reform and a DACA solution.

"You know, I don't think compromise is a dirty word. That's one thing that I have always said. I don't put hard lines down in the sand the way a lot of other people do...Let's get in a room and talk about it and figure it out by February 8th, but let's reopen the government, which is what I think we need to be doing."

Dingell supports the Democrat plan to fund six government agencies in one piece of legislation, then do a short-term continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security, which would mean no new wall funding.

"I want to see us reopen this government," Dingell said. "I think everybody looks bad. This is -- we need to -- but I'm not so desperate that I'll agree to something that doesn't make sense.

"But the fact of the matter is, we need to get back to Washington on January 3rd. We're all coming back. Most of us will be back there tomorrow. And we need to work together. And that's my New Year's resolution. I'm going to work with everybody because I think Americans are tired of partisan bickering."

The federal government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22, as Democrats resist President Trump's demand for $5 billion in wall funding.

On Jan. 1, Trump tweeted: "The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security - and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!"


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