Shutdown Lingers on as House Democrats Approve Spending Bill

Flags fly in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday morning, Jan. 1, 2019, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a short-term spending package to end the ongoing partial government shutdown, though the measure appears doomed to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats used their newly sworn-in majority to approve two separate bills that would combine to reopen the federal government. The bill funding the Department of Homeland Security passed 239-192, while the one funding the rest of the government cleared the House 241-190. 

One of the measures passed Thursday funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8, though it does not provide new money for President Donald Trump’s long-promised wall along the southern border.

The other portion of the package funds the remaining federal agencies hit by the shutdown through Sept. 30.

Trump has publicly stuck by his demand for $5 billion in new money to build a border wall, though he hinted in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that he has a lower number he would agree to but that he declined to name.

The White House on Thursday took another step in its public opposition to the Democrats’ plan, issuing a veto threat for both halves of the House spending package.

“The administration is committed to working with the Congress to reopen lapsed agencies, but cannot accept legislation that provides unnecessary funding for wasteful programs while ignoring the nation’s urgent border security needs,” a statement of administration policy released Thursday states.

The initial package the Senate passed in December to avert the government shutdown would have funded the government without additional border wall money, but Trump delivered a last-minute surprise to lawmakers by demanding they include the funds in any spending bill.

The Republican-controlled House obliged and passed a new spending package, but the Senate never sent the bill to Trump in the face of unified opposition from Democrats, as well as from some Republicans.

Now in its 13th day, there appears to be no end in sight for the shutdown. In addition to the White House veto threat, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate will not pass any measure Trump will not sign.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said congressional leadership will go to the White House on Friday morning to meet with Trump in an effort to resolve the shutdown.

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