government shutdown Under pressure
Dems prepare own border security package shunning Trump’s demand for $5.7B for wall
House Democrats, feeling pressure to display their vision for border security, are preparing a package that would ignore President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico and would instead pay for other ideas aimed at protecting the border.
As the government slogged through a record 33rd day of its partial shutdown Wednesday, details of Democrats’ border security plan and its cost remained a work in progress. Party leaders said it would include money for scanning devices and other technological tools for improving security at ports of entry and along the boundary, plus funds for more border agents and immigration judges.
“If his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart wall,” said No. 3 House Democratic leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
Democrats’ movement toward producing a plan, which they said they expected to unveil this week, was significant because it underscored a growing uneasiness with letting Trump cast them as soft on border security. It came as the Senate prepared for today’s votes on rival plans for reopening federal agencies and paying 800,000 federal workers who are a day from missing yet another paycheck.
Republicans would couple ending the shutdown with financing Trump’s wall and revamping immigration laws. Democrats would reopen agency doors for three weeks while bargainers seek an accord.
Both faced likely defeat, but that might spur the two sides into a more serious effort to strike a compromise when each saw it lacked the votes to prevail. Both proposals would need 60 votes to pass in a chamber with 53-47 Republican control.
Ominously, the day’s signs pointed to continued partisan hostilities.
Trump told White House reporters that Democrats had become “radicalized” and “a very, very dangerous party,” and took personal aim at Congress’ top two Democrats. He said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is “very strongly dominated” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling him her “puppet.”
Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Senate Republicans to abandon Trump despite his sway with conservative voters.