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Democratic leaders to Trump: Drop border wall plans to avoid shutdown

By
Allen Cone
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York will meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York will meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Democratic leaders have a message for President Donald Trump on the eve of their meeting Tuesday: Drop a proposal to spend $5 billion on the border wall to avoid a partial government shutdown.

"This holiday season, the president knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate, and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement," Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a joint statement Monday night.

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They are sheduled to meet with the president in the White House at 11:30 a.m.

Congress and the president have until Dec. 21 to reach a budget deal to avoid a government shutdown except for essential services in several agencies.

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Funding will run out for agencies that employ about 600,000 federal workers: Homeland Security Department, Interior Department, Agriculture Department, the Justice Department, NASA, the Commerce Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Transportation Department, as well as smaller ones.

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A short-term spending bill was passed last week to push ahead the shutdown deadline.

About 70 percent of the federal government, including the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services, are funded through next September.

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The Democratic leaders said Trump would be blamed if there is a shutdown.

"Republicans still control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open," they said. "Our country cannot afford a Trump s hutdown, especially at this time of economic uncertainty."

The Democrats will take over the House in January and the Republicans, who will have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate, need 60 votes to pass a budget proposal.

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Republicans and Democrats on the Senate appropriations committee earlier this year agreed to $1.6 billion for the wall as part of appropriations for the fiscal year 2018.

Pelosi and Schumer want Trump to approve a yearlong stopgap funding measure, also known as a continuing resolution.

At a Kansas City, Mo., event Friday, Trump pushed his border proposal.

"Congress must fully fund border security in the year-end funding bill," Trump said. "I actually think the politics are very bad for them."

Also Friday, Trump said that a wall between the United States and Mexico could cost as little as $15 billion, which is $10 billion lower than the figure he once promised and it would be underwritten by Mexico.

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